For a partnership to evolve in its effectiveness, it is important to plan for constant progress through regular review and writing things down.
This can be achieved by annually reviewing the checklist and updating a ‘Forward Framework’ comprising an overarching strategy and two component plans:
An organisational business plan covering the foundations, form, folk and organisational finances will determine whether there is an effective and sustainable partnership able to deliver improvements. This organisational plan should define the interrelationship and respective roles of partners such as the local authority, town council, business partners, Chamber of Commerce or a BID.
A town or city centre action plan is necessary to determine and define objectives, projects, responsibilities, budgets, timescales, outcomes and impact measures as the building blocks of the coordinated delivery of improvements on the ground. The annual review of such an action plan should begin and end with a review of available evidence and the monitoring of impacts and changes.
As the narrative accompanying the IPM Recovery Framework explains simply, council and place partnerships need to work together to prepare action plans that prioritise opportunities for unparalleled urgency in learning & innovation. Such action plans, need to address the short-term needs of recovery with long-term prospects for transforming town and city centres.
Imaginative and ambitious local leadership
The final stage of the IPM Recovery Framework points at the conscious need to do more than recover but to innovate and address new challenges, such as climate change, decarbonisation, economic inequality, social justice etc. In this transformative or revitalisation stage, local leadership should aspire to offer a good range of goods and services for visitors, a good trading environment for businesses and a good quality of life for their residents.
The revitalisation stage focuses on maintaining a high standard of joint working and outcomes-focused action through maintaining strong partnerships, secure funding and effective coordination in delivering a vision and plan whilst demonstrating success.
As this toolkit demonstrates, revitalising a town centre involves coordinating a range of activities, possibly over many years. The toolkit provides a holistic, town centre checklist as a self-assessment tool for ambitious and long-term local leadership. Global issues such as responses to pandemics, climate change and economic inequality, need to cascade down from national strategy and increasingly be represented as key or cross-cutting themes at a local level.
Like many local authorities across the country, one of the challenges facing Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council as part of its COVID-19 recovery planning, was adapting and advancing its existing commitment to developing its towns and local centres. The place leadership solution has been to create the Borough’s own version of the IPM’s national recovery framework covering the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ of town centre revitalisation.