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 a revived New Towns movement solve the housing crisis?

A new age of new towns and garden cities could be the solution to the affordable housing crisis in the UK, according to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, writes Alex Douet. In a speech to the National House Building Council recently in which he announced a government investment of £225 million in new homes, Mr […]

An Association of Agitators: the next step for our high streets?

Imagining Alternative High Street Futures from Architecture + Design Scotland on Vimeo. Where can you find an Association of Town Agitators, a ‘framework for mess’ and a high street Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Answer: Glasgow, where around 40 people gathered to ‘imagine alternative high street futures’ on Tuesday. We blogged some thoughts here earlier this […]

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 […]

Let’s hear it for the Queen of Shops

On a sleety December day in Wakefield or Wigan, Weston-super-Mare or Wisbech, a walk down the high street amid hard-up Christmas shoppers is a long way from most people’s idea of a good time. Today Mary Portas, TV’s Queen of Shops and the retail guru appointed by David Cameron to revive our high streets, is […]

Inspiration of the week: Todmorden’s edible green route

How do you bring a town together when there’s a busy main road running through the middle, and many of the people who live there work somewhere else? For three years Incredible Edible Todmorden has been changing the look and reputation of a small market town by planting fruit and vegetables in public spaces, from […]

From Mary Queen of Shops to DIY regeneration

News that Mary Portas – TV’s ‘Mary Queen of Shops’ – has been recruited by David Cameron to save Britain’s high streets has predictably got the media buzzing. And there is no doubting Mary Portas’s talent. But it will take more than the star of a TV makeover programme to change the fortunes of our […]

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 […]

News: new partnership with placemaking experts Beam

We’re pleased to announce that we’re strengthening our great relationship with public arts and placemaking experts at Beam, based at Wakefield’s Orangery. Urban Pollinators director Julian Dobson has joined a new panel of Beam Associates, providing expertise across a wide range of disciplines in arts, architecture, community development, public space and regeneration. Other associates include […]