Our town centres lie at the heart of communities but are facing a series of fundamental challenges. The growth of e-commerce and large out-of-town retailers means the retail sector is going through a revolution, and our town centres are struggling to adapt. This trend is set to continue and accelerate with the amount of retail space required within town centres set to contract by nearly a third by 2020. It is essential that we redesign the offer that our town centres make, based on an evidenced understanding of their unique characteristics and the changing market to both consolidate existing strengths and develop an offer that meets emerging demand.
The Planning and Housing team are engaged in a review process of our 8 principle GM town centres; this process has involved GM partners including MIDAS, Marketing Manchester, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and New Economy and has drawn advice from an expert independent panel. The work has identified interventions required to help restructure town centres in the face of changing consumer demands. At the conurbation scale, the GM Combined Authority (GMCA), working with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), has developed a joint response to this work; there are two key elements to the GM response. The first is on town centre investment and the need to develop a new town centre investment fund that can finance a series of new interventions, as part of a sequenced development programme within each town centre. The second is on creating more competitive town centres, by providing additional capacity and skills to enable Districts to deliver a range other town centre interventions more quickly.
An implementation plan has been developed and the delivery of this plan will be a priority for the planning and housing team and New Economy over the next 12 months as GM looks to accelerate change in its principle town centres.
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