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Sat August 08 2020

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New group to lead Scotland’s action on town centres

2 Jul Scotland’s communities secretary has announced the formation of a group of specialists to consult on policy for the revitalisation of towns.

Experts in town planning, public health, transport and business will take on board views of local communities to build on the progress of the Scottish government’s 2013 Town Centre Action Plan, said Aileen Campbell. The Scottish government provided £50m to local authorities through the capital Town Centre Fund, announced 7 March 2019, to support progress under the plan.

Diverse views from urban, town, rural and island communities must be heard if town centres are to be revitalised and renewed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, said Campbell.

Professor Leigh Sparks of the University of Stirling will chair the expert group, which will also include members from Cosla, the Royal Town Planning Institute, South of Scotland Enterprise, the Carnegie Trust, the Federation of Small Businesses, Public Health Scotland, Sustrans, Inclusion Scotland and the Scottish government.

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“Town centres are crucial to our economic recovery and renewal as we emerge from lockdown and it’s important we do all we can to support them,” said Campbell. “Covid-19 has changed the way we all live, work and shop, and we must develop safe spaces that meet the diverse economic, social and environmental needs of city, country, village and island populations.”

Sparks said: “Our town centres need to be successful places which are socially and economically inclusive. The National Review of Town Centres in 2013 and the Town Centre Action Plan which followed have provided a pathway for towns in recent years.

“Covid-19 provides a challenge to our towns and town centres, but also an opportunity to rethink and re-energise our efforts to make towns fit for all in Scotland.”

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