Reverse the effects of the 3Ds

From wasteland to areas of economic growth

Urban regeneration is simply defined as the process of reversing the effects of what I like to call the 3Ds:

  • DownturnRead regular article from Alison Bowcott-McGrath in Revive & Thrive's Place Magazine
  • Decay
  • Dereliction

However, wherever there is a wasteland, there is also an opportunity and, with a little creative vision, high streets experiencing social decline can be transformed into areas of economic growth. It’s all about repurposing existing buildings and introducing mixed use developments that better represent the needs of the community such as; residences, workplaces, retail, health and public spaces.

According to Essential Retail magazine, retail businesses with large footprints, especially those with large format stores and long lease terms, will struggle in 2018. We’ve all heard about John Lewis and New Look seeking CVAs (company voluntary arrangements), legal agreements allowing rent reduction negotiations and store closures amid concerns over poor sales figures. These have come under recent scrutiny believed to simply delay the demise rather than rescue the business. Maplins, Poundworld and Toys R Us have all fallen into Revive & Thrive Local Legend Campaign sponsored by PinPointeradministration and it seems a failure to adapt to industry changes has left the traditional retail business model no longer fit for purpose in the modern digital world.

What does this mean for the future of UK high streets?

Creative thinking is required for the changing environment because these days people want to work in places where they can make a life and not just a living. Thoughtful regeneration that considers the needs of the community it serves will attract investment and offer security in the ebb and flow of shifting consumer habits. We need to create spaces that encourage collaboration and creativity to bring in the best talent and nurture the best ideas.

If we consider the future by reimagining the buildings in our high street as more vibrant, exciting and inspiring places we provide them with a whole new lease of life. Flexible and sustainable spaces to suit an increasingly diverse workforce are the essential fabric of the community, places we can experience, live, learn, work, develop and grow.

Alison Bowcott-McGrathAlison Bowcott-McGrath is MD of MayNineteen and PinPointer

Founder and Managing Director

PinPointer UK and MAYNINETEEN Ltd


Building 8

Exchange Quay

Salford M5 3EJ


T: 0161 850 1400

M: 07870 176949

Budding photographers to showcase their talent this Christmas

CH1ChesterBID’s CheSTAR has returned to the city centre this year, and with it comes a photography competition where the lucky winner will bag £250 worth of vouchers

Subscribe to Place and read more stories like this in Place Magazine The dazzling CheSTAR is back in the city centre this Christmas and to celebrate its return, the city’s Business Improvement District, CH1ChesterBID, has launched a competition to find the best photograph of the giant sparkling star. 

Standing 25ft high and 25ft wide, the star is based in the grounds of Chester Cathedral on St Werburgh Street and will be lighting up Chester city centre this festive season as part of CH1ChesterBID’s annual Christmas celebrations. 

This Christmas in Chester article can be found in Revive & Thrive's Place Magazine
Read more stories like this each month in Place Magazine

The show-stopping decoration features almost 19,000 twinkling lights and made its debut in Chester last year, after being handcrafted especially for the city to add to the festive illuminations. 

To mark its return, between 16th November – 7th January, CH1ChesterBID is encouraging city visitors and local residents to snap their best photograph of the star and share it on Instagram or Twitter. The contest will be judged by the team at Camera Solutions on Frodsham Street and is open for anyone to enter. 

The chosen winner will take home £250 of vouchers to use at Camera Solutions in Chester. 

Judy Tagell, marketing manager at CH1ChesterBID, said: “We’re thrilled to see the CheSTAR make its stunning return to the city centre this year. It’s an eye-catching addition to our Christmas activities and we’re really excited to launch our new photography competition alongside it. The competition is open to photographers of all abilities so we’re really excited to see all the creative angles people will capture images of the CheSTAR from.” 

Choose Revive & Thrive for your Business Improvement District Feasibility servicesTo enter, simply take a picture of the CheSTAR and post it on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #CheSTAR and tag @CH1Chester on Twitter or @CH1ChesterBID on Instagram. Alternatively, entrants can also email their photograph to 

Ray Fisher, owner of Camera Solutions, said: “We’re really excited to be working with CH1ChesterBID on a Christmas photography competition this year and we can’t wait to see all the entries. We’re looking for something unique for our winning shot, so we’d encourage people to be bold and creative with their photographs and come up with something that really stands out from the crowd.” 

The winner will be announced by CH1ChesterBID on 19th January 2018. 

For more information about CH1ChesterBID’s Christmas activities, visit

More stories like this one from Chester can be found in Place Magazine each month

On the outskirts: towns in public policy

‘The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow’, according to Bill Gates.

Read all about opportunities for towns in Revive & Thrive's Place Magazine
Read stories suggesting opportunities for towns in Revive & Thrive’s Place Magazine

But while it is true that digital spaces can contribute to informal support systems in our online relationships with family and friends, and increasingly, formal support systems in digital public services, they cannot provide us with the physical places that contribute to our wellbeing. Digital spaces alone cannot provide us with the same unique sense of place, identity, and shared history as the physical places of where we call home – from small rural settlements to large urban cities, to upland, lowland, and coastal communities.

And a town is where millions of us across the UK and Ireland call home. What our towns are ‘known for’ – an industry, a prominent historical figure, or renowned architecture – forms part of the local, positive story about where we live. But in direct contrast to this, in national policy the narrative is largely negative and one of decline. Our towns are defined in relation to the nearest city – as ‘commuter’, ‘satellite’ or ‘dormitory’ – or by their past – as ‘former-coal’ or ‘post-industrial’ – in need of regeneration, resilience or future-proofing.

Has such a framing of towns at the national level influenced the priorities, funding, and focus of our governments in developing place-based policies?

The Carnegie UK Trust’s new report provides an overview of the main policies and initiatives designed to improve economic, social, environmental, and democratic outcomes in places across the jurisdictions. At the regional level, the impact of City Deals and related cities policy is rendering the regions surrounding powerhouse cities, and their composite towns, as the secondary focus for investment. Equally dominant in the place-based approach taken by governments across the jurisdictions is investment in rural areas, which includes surrounding towns on the basis that they are in fact vital, if only for the economic development of rural areas. Integrating towns into rural policy assumes that supporting rural areas with a range of goods and services is the primary function of nearby towns, but there is very little data available to support this expectation.

Carnegie Trust improve well being for towns across the UK The operating assumption appears to be that investment in nearby cities and rural hinterlands will inevitably lead to improved outcomes for their surrounding towns, despite towns being fundamentally different socio-economic geographies which require their own dedicated policy solutions to improve their performance.

While at the local level, whether the focus is on town centre regeneration, as in Scotland; in heritage, as seen in Ireland; or general urban regeneration, as in Northern Ireland, policies are operating at a sub-town level – focusing on physical parts of a town or individual communities with it – to the detriment of the wider town in which they sit. But austerity means that this approach is piecemeal – never translating into anything more than the sum of its parts to consider the town in its totality.

This dual focus – on the external city or surrounding rural hinterland and internal sub-town community or part of a town – means that towns are a neglected area of public policy. They are rarely taken as the starting point for formal policymaking, or have the policy levers available to them to influence their fortunes.

So what can be done to address this policy gap?

The rhetoric of devolution and decentralisation needs to be matched with the reality of more decision-making powers for towns; more data about towns and evidence about what works; and more opportunities for towns to work together. From international initiatives such as the World Towns Framework, to the UK cross-border such as the Borderlands Initiative, to the more immediately local such as the South of Scotland Alliance, there are opportunities for towns to share skills, knowledge and resources. These must be built upon to share successes, and challenges, to improving our places. Only through greater collaboration will towns and their practitioners have the strength in numbers to hold their own in the national policy arena with the well-resourced organisations advocating for the interests of cities and rural areas. Only through greater collaboration will it be time for towns.

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When BIDs go bad!

BIDs are perfect, right?

Most of you reading this will, I hope, be advocates for BIDs, certainly in the sense of them being vehicles for delivering projects that support towns and cities, acting as a voice for business and generally taking a lead on local partnership working.

Read more articles about BIDs in issue 17 of Place Magazine
Read more articles about BIDs in issue 17 of Place Magazine

My own opinion is that, pretty much without exception, they do good stuff, some do great stuff, and some are exceptional. And it tends to be the case that, as BIDs mature, like wine, they get better with age.

Sadly, though, there are exceptions. To date, there have not been any instances of BIDs failing to renew after 10 years (a small but growing sample size, I admit). After a decade of delivery, all but the most fervent anti-BID businesses see the value for money they provide, but what if a BID was being so badly mismanaged that the atmosphere within its business community became toxic to the point of levy payers voting a BID out in spite of its record of delivery?

It pains me to say that this is a very real scenario I’ve come across recently.  A CIC has been set up to rival the BID (well, not so much rival as do the things the BID should be doing!), and its first project is a crowdfunder to raise money so that businesses and consumers in the area can have Christmas Lights this year as the BID can no longer afford them. 


BIDs more cartel than support?

Ask the local business community and they’ll tell you the BID board is more like a cartel. In nine years, 51 people have been directors and resigned. Most of the five who remain have been there since the start.

It seems ludicrous that an area with a BID should see a voluntary group crowdfunding to do the things it should be, but I’m sure many of you will have come across cases where ego has got in the way of running a successful business -BID or otherwise.       

Most worryingly, this BID’s second term comes to an end next spring. Sometime between now and then, the BID is going to ask businesses to vote for a third term.  As it stands today, I can’t see that happening.

There seems to be no easy answer to this problem either, a small gang of directors who are unwilling to cede control standing against a business community who are passionate about their area and support BIDs in general but who have arrived at a point where they see no BID as the best way forward.

It does, though, highlight the importance of good governance and getting the structures right from the outset.  I wonder how many BIDs have terms of reference, codes of conduct, or even contracts for their directors?  I imagine that the number is growing as the industry matures and we see examples of worst practice as well as best practice.

And, this scenario reminds us all that BIDs are not necessarily the only route to success – committed and passionate individuals make the difference, whether that’s within the structure of a BID or within some other kind of mechanism.


Matt Powell

More articles like this can be found in issue 17 of Place Magazine – download here for free

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