How to eat an elephant

‘Before you came over the challenge here looked like eating an elephant – it was just too enormous. Now I feel we know how to eat the elephant.’ We’ve been working with the Cedar Foundation, a small charity that began life in Bulgaria leading the de-institutionalisation of orphanages for disabled children, and is now beginning […]

Why we need urban development heretics

When shopping centre developer Hammerson walked away from Sheffield’s much-vaunted New Retail Quarter last year, it could have been a blessing in disguise. Here was an opportunity to radically rethink the ‘mall without walls’ template for city centre regeneration. Sheffield City Council’s chief executive, John Mothersole, has been quoted as saying that the next iteration of the […]

Can Belfast become a city fit for the future?

A few minutes after you leave Belfast City Airport to head into the city centre, a row of fluttering purple flags greets you. They signal that the estate behind the fence is the territory of the Ulster Volunteer Force. Seven months ago they weren’t there. It’s a visible sign of the fragility of Belfast’s recovery […]

Does your town still have a purpose?

In this guest post, Bob Gibson argues that we need to examine town’s evolution and purpose to prepare effectively for the future.   In recent weeks there has been much debate and heartache about the difficulties hitting many town centres. The Portas Review, Action for Market Towns, a Parliamentary debate (alas attended by only about […]

A warm welcome for the Portas Review

The producers of the ‘21st Century Agora’ white paper warmly welcome the Mary Portas review of the high street as a real opportunity to inject new thinking into our struggling town centres and create places where people can thrive and flourish. Our input into the review was described by Mary Portas as ‘inspirational and invaluable’ […]

Why we need an ethic of regeneration

Just what IS regeneration? James Morris, a member of the House of Commons communities and local government select committee, posed the question yesterday that experts have struggled to answer over many decades. I was one of the witnesses called to give evidence at the first hearing of the committee’s current inquiry into regeneration yesterday. Numerous […]

Rebalancing the economy – why the North still matters

Given the wealth of half-baked think tank reports out there, it’s always a pleasure to read something by someone who knows what they’re talking about. On that basis Michael Ward’s new report for the Smith Institute, Rebalancing the Economy: Prospects for the North is an important milestone. Admittedly I’m not unbiased here. I’ve worked with […]