Traditional or experiential places? Exploring research needs and practitioner challenges in the management of town centres beyond the economic crisis

This 2015 academic article briefly details some of the key trends and issues impacting the management of town and city centres following the 2008 economic crisis. It argues that place managers need to respond to such trends proactively, rather than reactively, such as growing role of the experience economy and non-retail aspects, the rise in the digital high street, and the smart cities concept.

Date added 5 October 2021
Last updated 5 October 2021

*This resource is more than 5 years old but has been included as it contains information that is still relevant and useful*

The article details some of the key trends and issues impacting the management of town and city centres following the 2008 global economic downturn. It begins by discussing the history of - and changes seen in - town centre management (TCM), moving from more reactive to proactive responses to challenges posed to centre resilience (e.g. economic crises). For instance, a visual diagram illustrating the evolution of TCM in the UK demonstrates a movement away from the idea of town centres as shopping destinations and responses to competitive pressures seen in the 1980s, to the more strategic planning approaches seen today, including considerations of the digital high street.

The paper also identifies a number of key changes needed for the successful management of town and city centres in the future, including:

  • A move away from the traditional janitorial role of TCM, to a more visionary role.
  • A 24-hour and service-centred view of centres, with retail continuing to play an important but less dominant role.
  • A blurring between the digital and physical high street.
  • The use of town centre events and festivals as test beds for urban innovation, sustainability, and entrepreneurship.
  • Take into account developments such as the smart cities concept, which the authors suggest will become more community-focused in the future.