Why do, and how can, our towns thrive and not just exist?

Covid 19 has necessitated many opportunities and changes for workers and employees to redefine their working routine in order to keep parts of the economy flowing. It can be argued either way that some or all of these new practises ‚’ online working, virtual meetings etc. ‚’ should stay, but the knock-on effect of such continuation, even at a micro level, is the effect on our town and city centres (CBDs). Cities are by-products of industrialisation; the need to have physical spaces and infrastructures where masses of people can be together in order to work together. Covid has, like in other areas of our post-industrial era, shone a light on the urgent need to redefine what our town and city spaces are for, given that the original reason for the creation of urban conurbations has changed so rapidly and in such a startling way. How can our CBDs be centres for our communities across the ethnic and demographic landscape we find ourselves in without them turning in to ghost towns at night and running the risk of becoming a retail scene of betting shops and budget retail stores, particularly given the exponential rise of online shopping? These problems are, to a degree, everywhere in the UK but they are exacerbated in smaller cities and larger towns. The void that has been left since the removal of industry has left many areas with a history of their ‚’raison d‚’√™tre‚’, but without a true identity of what they are now. They are searching for an identity that communities can embrace, support and benefit from, both culturally and economically. Covid has exacerbated this problem dramatically. Without radical and brave strategies that place people at the heart of the solution our urban spaces risk becoming like ghettos.




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