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The people-centred city
The people-centred city
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From 'me' towns to 'we' towns



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How the UK's small towns are leading the way from 'me' to 'we' - changing from towns that focus on consumption to towns that focus on citizenship.

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From 'me' towns to 'we' towns

  1. 1. From ‘me’ towns to ‘we’ towns After Portas, is there a recipe for successful centres?
  2. 2. What did the Portas review achieve? ‣ Positive 1: Interest. The future of the high street has never been higher on the public agenda. ‣ Positive 2: Action. Nearly 400 town teams set up to revive English town centres. ‣ Positive 3: Different thinking. ‘Once we create social capital in the heart of our communities, the economic capital will follow.’ 2
  3. 3. And what did it fail to achieve? ‣ Negative 1: Analysis. The review failed to consider the wider factors behind towns’ decline. ‣ Negative 2: Confusion. The review’s recommendations were a menu of options, not a strategy. ‣ Negative 3: Inadequate response. Small pots of government money and assistance designed to generate headlines, not change. 3
  4. 4. So where do we go from here?
  5. 5. From me to we: the might of the small Can small towns be engines of a new urbanism?
  6. 6. or is this how it has to be? ‘When you’re growing up in a small town you know you’ll grow down in a small town there is only one good use for a small town you hate it and you know you’ll have to leave...’ Lou Reed
  7. 7. The problem with ‘me’ towns a.k.a. the death spiral of ‘retail-led regeneration’ ‘I want to park ‘I want to ‘I want to buy ‘I’m a my car outside protect my from big consumer, don’t the shop I want margins and brands like expect me to to visit’ income stream’ everyone else’ contribute’
  8. 8. Small towns with big hearts How small (and not so small) places are demonstrating the power of ‘we’
  9. 9. Totnes: the town that said no to Costa ‘If localism means communities have the right to decide what happens in their towns, it’s time for planners to understand this as well.’ ~ No to Costa campaign
  10. 10. Totally Locally: towns that say yes ‘If every adult in Calderdale spent just £5 per week extra in local shops and businesses, it would mean an extra £40m a year going into our local economy.’ ~ Chris Sands, Totally Locally
  11. 11. Todmorden: ‘If you eat, you’re in’ ‘We’ve seen people who never thought they had a chance get a handle on their own future’ ~ Pam Warhurst
  12. 12. Hebden Bridge: owned by the community ‘We feel we are exploring a new form of public ownership, one which looks back to 19th century models of mutuality and self-help as well as forward to 21st century models.’ ~ Peter Hirst
  13. 13. Wigan: pushing local loyalty further ‘WiganPlus is about backing Wigan. It does this by offering rewards for supporting your local community and local businesses.’
  14. 14. JFDI urbanism: Townstock, High St Camp ‘I was really impressed by #highstcamp today. Crowd sourcing and collective activism at its very best. 10/10.’ @BeepTreat, Bristol ‘Townstock: Really inspiring stories of people using parks, shops and streets to create places people want to live in.’ @mariaadebowale, London
  15. 15. How can we make it happen?
  16. 16. “High streets and town centres that are fit for the 21st century need to be multifunctional social centres, not simply competitors for stretched consumers.” ‘The 21st Century Agora’
  17. 17. A recipe for successful centres? Four kinds of behaviour that enhance the uniqueness of places Support the Act as citizens, Prioritise Become a local and the not just as producers, not flaneur in your independent shoppers just consumers own town
  18. 18. ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ Four steps towards putting towns back on their feet Create easy Love your local Link the civic, Try to turn each access space market, love community and ‘why?’ into a for start-ups local traders commercial ‘why not?’
  19. 19. “The soul of the city - the strength which makes it breathe, exist and progress - resides in each one of its citizens.” Jaime Lerner, mayor of Curitiba, Brazil
  20. 20. thank you more from me... my blog: Living with Rats Twitter: @juliandobson