The New Historic City

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What future for high streets in historic cities? This presentation for RSA Fellows in northwest England and the Cheshire Society of Architects examines the links between high streets, heritage, belonging and possible economic futures.

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The New Historic City

  1. 1. The new historic city high streets, heritage and knowing our place Julian Dobson, director, Urban Pollinators
  2. 2. ‘A NATION THAT KEEPS ONE EYE ON THE PAST IS WISE. A NATION THAT KEEPS BOTH EYES ON THE PAST IS BLIND.’
  3. 3. Introduction: foresight and hindsight 1 Shift happens: the changing high street 2 Shifting gear: place in a digital world 3 Shifting perspective: designing for people 4 Working the shift: possible futures
  4. 4. FORESIGHT AND HINDSIGHT WHAT IS ‘SUCCESS’ AND WHO BENEFITS FROM IT?
  5. 5. ‘We possess the distinctive architecture and environment that means we should better capitalise on the opportunities for inward investment and economic growth.’ Chester One City Plan
  6. 6. ‘There is a concern that the High Street shopping experience to which society has grown accustomed... is changing and we are not sure whether we will like either how it will change or what it will be changed to.’ John Dawson, 1988
  7. 7. ‘Multiple ownership in town centres can be a major barrier to change. This must be attacked head on to avoid unnecessary delays.’ Government task force, draft report, 2013
  8. 8. FORESIGHT? A NOTE OF CAUTION ABOUT THE BEST-LAID PLANS (AND THE OTHERS)
  9. 9. SHIFT HAPPENS FROM SALVATION BY SHOPPING TO A DIVIDED SOCIETY
  10. 10. NO MORE SALVATION BY SHOPPING FROM RETAIL-LED REGENERATION TO TUMBLEWEED: CONCENTRATION, POLARISATION, DIGITISATION
  11. 11. No more salvation by shopping 1 Concentration: 50% of shopping centre and high street leases will expire by 2015. Big brands are retreating into prime locations. 2 Polarisation: Growing gaps between the havenots and have-lots. Liverpool One: a £1bn wealth redistribution scheme? 3 Digitisation: 12% of all UK sales were online in 2012. £50bn market. e-books now bigger than hardbacks in US.
  12. 12. FROM ECONOMIC REBALANCING TO BACKING WINNERS WHAT DOES A CITY-FOCUSED ECONOMY MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF SECOND-TIER TOWNS?
  13. 13. A city-focused economy 1 Agglomeration: Cities are increasingly seen as economic drivers, concentrating entrepreneurship, investment and productivity. 2 Creativity: Cities are attractors of population, offering cultural and lifestyle choices. 3 ‘Irrational exuberance’: Cities stoke up land values and property speculation. Despite talk of ‘rebalancing’ the UK economy is dependent on London’s financial sector.
  14. 14. A SOCIAL CRUCIBLE ON OUR HIGH STREETS TOWN CENTRES ARE BECOMING A MIRROR OF A DIVIDED SOCIETY
  15. 15. A more divided society 1 The failure of work: There are now more working people in poverty than there are jobless households living in poverty. 2 The debt generation: For the first time in recent history, the next generation can expect to be worse off than ours. 3 Civic asset stripping: Libraries, community centres, parks and youth services are first in line for spending cuts.
  16. 16. SHIFTING GEAR RECLAIMING THE HIGH STREET IN A DIGITAL AND DIVIDED AGE
  17. 17. RECLAIMING PUBLIC SPACE FROM SOCIABLE CITIES TO A 21ST CENTURY COMMONS
  18. 18. ‘Within the community, the more persons who participate in a dance, the higher its value to each participant. Each added dancer brings new opportunities to vary partners and share the excitement.’ Carol Rose, The Comedy of the Commons, 1986
  19. 19. RECLAIMING PUBLIC ASSETS FROM THE SUPPLICANT STATE TO A DUTY OF STEWARDSHIP
  20. 20. ‘We are exploring a new form of ownership, one which looks back to 19th century models of mutuality and self-help as well as to 21st century models.’ Peter Hirst, Hebden Bridge Community Association
  21. 21. RECLAIMING LOCAL ECONOMIES RECONNECTING FOLK, WORK AND PLACE
  22. 22. Of the £30m paid for groceries in Totnes, Devon, only 33% is spent in independent shops and only 27% on locally sourced products - an opportunity to reconnect up to £20m of spending with local producers and retailers. Totnes Local Economic Blueprint, 2013
  23. 23. SHIFTING PERSPECTIVES DESIGNING HIGH STREETS FOR PEOPLE
  24. 24. THE HIGH STREET AS GARDEN RETHINKING SPACE WITH FOOD: INCREDIBLE EDIBLE TODMORDEN
  25. 25. ‘Simply by using this language of food, we have opened up conversations, new ways of looking at space, new ways of working across our communities, new ways of bending existing investment.’ Pam Warhurst, Incredible Edible Todmorden
  26. 26. THE HIGH STREET AS PROMENADE RETHINKING SPACE AS LEISURE: LONDON’S SOUTH BANK
  27. 27. In Melbourne, the number of pedestrians in the city centre increased by 39% between 1993 and 2005. The number of street café chairs rose from 1,940 in 1993 to 12,570 by 2009. In London, pedestrians spend £147 per month more than motorists.
  28. 28. THE HIGH STREET AS STAGE RETHINKING SPACE FOR PERFORMANCE: STOKES CROFT, BRISTOL
  29. 29. ‘Stokes Croft six or seven years ago was seen as the sink of the south west, it was one of the worst places. Really it was one of the most interesting places.’ Chris Chalkley, People’s Republic of Stokes Croft
  30. 30. WORKING THE SHIFT POSSIBLE FUTURES FOR HISTORIC CITIES
  31. 31. THE PERIPHERAL CITY AN URBAN BACK OFFICE IN A TWO-SPEED ECONOMY
  32. 32. THE THEME PARK CITY A BLAST FROM THE PAST OFFERING ESCAPE FROM THE REAL WORLD
  33. 33. THE NUMB CITY ECONOMIC GROWTH BECOMES THE ULTIMATE GOOD
  34. 34. THE RESILIENT CITY AN EVOLVING ECONOMY PRESERVING THE BEST OF THE PAST
  35. 35. THE SELF-DIRECTED CITY BUILDING ON LOCAL PRIDE TO FORGE A SHARED FUTURE
  36. 36. ‘It is through the performance of creative acts, in art, in thought, in personal relationships, that the city can be identified as something more than a purely functional organisation of factories and warehouses, barracks, courts, prisons and control centres.’ Lewis Mumford, The City in History, 1961
  37. 37. thank you www.urbanpollinators.co.uk Twitter: @juliandobson
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