The last few years have disrupted many areas of our lives, challenging the established ways in which we work, spend our leisure time and access goods and services. The Covid pandemic accelerated change at an unprecedented rate and the increasing urgency surrounding the climate change agenda is going to require a similar level of focus and innovation to create a net zero world.

There has never been a bigger opportunity for our towns and cities to reinvent themselves, to meet the changing needs of the people who live in and visit them.

But how do we go about regenerating our centres?

This cannot be a one size fits all approach. Each urban area comes with its own challenges and opportunities. However, there are common goals and principles that apply when creating vibrant centres where people choose to live, work, shop and play. Our towns and city centres should:

  • Fulfil a range of purposes and appeal to a wide range of users;
  • Make good use of available space and be able to function day and night;
  • Embrace difference and create a unique personality; and
  • Be sustainable and deliver higher social return.

The Vision

Living: The delivery of housing for all, from young, single first-time buyers to families seeking affordable housing and older generations who want to remain at the heart of their community. Residents attracted to living in the centre of our towns and cities by a good choice of housing across all price brackets and tenures, supported by the provision of health, education and leisure services in the locality.

Working: High quality, environmentally friendly workspaces that enable collaboration between colleagues and with a value proposition that simply cannot be found in the home office. Flexible buildings that meet the needs of hybrid workers.

Playing: A variety of leisure services appealing to different interests and age groups and encouraging footfall throughout the day. The creation of a vibrant and interesting environment which attracts visitors and long term residents alike.

Shopping: Experiential-led shops from the big brands combined with a range of independent retailers providing an experience unique to that centre and shops servicing the day-to-day needs of the local residents.

Over a series of blogs we will discuss the issues for reimagining our town and city centres to deliver this vision, including the redevelopment of brownfield sites, the conversion and repurposing of existing buildings and creating and funding the infrastructure required to meet the demands of future generations.

Unlocking shopping centre reinvention

Site assembly - Piecing the jigsaw together

Obtaining vacant possession of commercial premises in Scotland

Reshaping our cities - new build vs refurbishment

City centre working: considerations for the construction sector


Johane Murray

Head of Real Estate & Partner