HMV’s travails show the need for citizens to reclaim town and city space

My thoughts on the demise of high street photographic chain Jessops and the likely closure of HMV have been featured in the Guardian’s Northerner blog. The problem is not simply that a particular business model has become obsolete, I argued. ‘What’s broken is our own ability as citizens to share in the ownership, management and […]

The Portas Review, one year on

To mark the first anniversary of the publication of the Portas Review, AMT and Urban Pollinators have brought together a range of collaborators to reflect on town centre progress and problems. High streets and town centres remain firmly on the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments’ agendas. It’s encouraging that so much local action is taking place and […]

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’ […]

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 […]

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 […]

Oddbins: not just a storm in a wine glass

The likely demise of the off-licence chain Oddbins isn’t just a story of poor marketing or changing trends. It’s part of a continuing story of changing townscapes that, if we don’t take action, will make many of our centres more dreary, forsaken places for decades to come. Oddbins is following in the wake of Waterstones, […]

Seven steps from ghost town to host town

Last month another city fell victim to the credit crunch as the £300m Summer Row shopping development in Wolverhampton was axed. But was it really such bad news? It might just be that Wolverhampton has been saved from one of the last of the dinosaurs. According to its promoters, Summer Row was going to bring […]