The Important Role of Retail in Town Centre Vibrancy and Vitality, Regeneration and Revitalisation
FAC, representing the Irish Planning Institute, presented on the important role of retail in town vibrancy and vitality, regeneration and revitalisation at the National Town Centre Health Check Training Programme workshop. The event was held in Dublin Castle on the 16 March and was attended by Damien English, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal.
The Heritage Council, RGDATA and the Retail Consortium, in collaboration with the IPI, ILI, RIAI, UCD, LIT Thurles, DIT and QUB, have developed a ‘pilot’ trans-disciplinary National Town Centre Health Check Training Programme in conjunction with 10 participating towns across the country. The training will support the creation of robust Town Centre Health Checks for 10 Irish towns, which are linked to the statutory planning system, through the review of county development plans and Local Area Plans.
Aims and Objectives
The aim of the training programme is to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of the critical role that historic town centres play and the wide-ranging impacts that their vitality and viability have on overall socio-economic, environmental and cultural growth and development, and on quality of life for citizens and visitors alike.
The ‘pilot’ aims to develop an innovative town centre-led retail, cultural heritage and tourism baseline, which will be recognised internationally as a best practice collaborative development model for regeneration. Essentially, this would be an innovative national ‘Towns’ capacity-building programme designed by, and for, Local Authorities, town centre businesses and local citizens/community groups with close mentoring support from professional practitioners with significant experience of town centre regeneration, urban design and planning and management in Ireland, and elsewhere.
The proposal will build upon Town Centre Health Check (TCHC) projects already undertaken by the Heritage Council and its key Partners including Fingal County Council/Balbriggan Chamber of Commerce in Balbriggan in 2010; and Clare County Council/Kilrush Tidy Towns, in Kilrush in 2012.
The Health Check will establish an innovative baseline, to help monitor and drive the development of the town centre going forward. The work of the Town Centre Health Check will include;
• Land Use surveys to establish the overall vacancy rates in the town
• Retailer surveys to establish current levels of commercial activity and outlook
• Pedestrian counts to establish actual town centre visitor numbers
• Shoppers surveys to rate visitor experience and satisfaction
Members of the public and business owners are encouraged to participate and give their views on their experiences in the town centre. It is an opportunity to shape town centres and strengthen it into the future, to make it an attractive place to work, live and visit.
FAC has delivered many retail strategies on behalf of local government, and has delivered many retail impact assessment reports demonstrating the suitability (or otherwise) of schemes for the proper planning and sustainable socio-economic and environmental development of an area. One of our ongoing projects working on behalf of Carlow County Council was briefly mentioned in the Irish Times (http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/irish-towns-encouraged-to-undergo-health-checks-1.3013568), where we have been completing town and village health checks and advising on a local paint scheme framework.
For more details on FAC, visit our website www.futureanalytics.ie where you can find information on our services and extensive portfolio of quality projects, or call 016394836 to speak to the team.