Strategic Management for Sustainable High Street Recovery

Although originally published in 2013, this article remains relevant and proposes that strategic place management should be at the heart of the planning, design and overall place-making process in what the authors argue would be a new paradigm for town centre regeneration.

Date added 28 July 2020
Last updated 28 July 2020

This article by Andres Coca-Stefaniak and Samer Bagaeen, published in 2013, focuses on how strategic place management should be at the heart of the planning, design and overall place-making process, in what the authors argue would be a new paradigm for town centre regeneration. The global rise in urbanism and creation of mega-cities is likely to drive global growth and innovation, however, the authors warn that “growth often comes at a price, and place identity can be one of the first casualties” (p. 532).

This article also considers the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on European cities, many of which are in need of significant regeneration at a time when financial support for such projects was no longer forthcoming. In this article, the authors cite data evidencing how UK town centres were recovering from this by 2013. As we are now attempting to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and with evidence that Place-Making is also linked to parallel Place-Branding strategies, there is a new opportunity for “a serious rethink of the role of place management as a symbiotic element of strategic significance in the long-term impact and sustainability of large-scale urban regeneration projects” (p. 532).

The authors argue that very basic changes can be made that could underpin a more strategic management approach to town centre management, and the regeneration and recovery of our high streets. These include, for example, involving all stakeholders including property owners in the management of our town centres, especially in BID areas, and expanding the Purple Flag scheme to more effectively manage the evening and night-time economy of our towns.

At the heart of this article is a “town centre performance framework … which advocates the use of place management as a proactive (rather than reactive) strategic mechanism to predict and address socioeconomic and environmental trends, building on a place’s ‘personality’” (p. 534). Basically this is a “strategic framework for place and town centre performance management” (p. 535) that takes into account: Global, national, regional and local trends, and the impacts of diversity and vitality of place, people and footfall, consumer and business perceptions, and economic characteristics on effective place management.

Strategic management usually starts with an analysis of a current situation, and this framework, along with its “supporting do-it yourself analysis toolkit” (p. 535) allows groups at all levels, including at the grassroots community level, to undertake their own analysis of a place and to “formulate place-specific strategies that cover the full life-cycle from planning and design (including placemaking) to development, commissioning and operation (including town centre and place management)” (p. 535).