Is this really the right time to talk about 'Prosperity'?
Is there anything positive historic towns can take from the current economic situation?
Well, a certain amount of reassurance that they have witnessed and survived many such occurrences over the centuries; that they have generally emerged stronger than other places because what they have to offer is more widely appreciated by those who use their services; and that they can therefore lead the way to recovery.
Retail-led regeneration was the topic of a recent seminar organised by HTF in association with one of our sponsors, the John Lewis Partnership. Held at the magnificent Longstock House, Leckford, delegates were invited to exchange views on the merits of a policy approach which focuses on emphasising the value of town centre developments. Delegates were broadly of the opinion that 'town centres first' was a solid starting point for commercial development, provided it was not always interpreted as 'town centres only'. A certain degree of compromise on behalf of retail developers, coupled with far better standards of design, was also encouraged if new retail schemes on town centre sites were to be successful.
Where central sites were not available then the key to successful integration of edge of centre sites was good pedestrian connectivity, which should be negotiated as part of the development proposal.
The long awaited PPS6 is now being merged with other Policy statements on the economy into a 'Prosperity' policy statement to be issued for consultation in the next few weeks. Using the recession to 'get ready' for growth is being encouraged by many as the way forward. The Forum intends to do just that through its events and publications, starting later this month at Cambridge, where we are delighted that Sir Bob Kerslake and other eminent speakers have accepted our invitation to speak about 'Smarter Growth'.
Growth and prosperity go hand in hand, and so being ready to support growth in a planned and controlled way will, for many historic towns be the route out of recession.
Hope to see you at Cambridge on 29 and 30 April.