Town centre checklist: a self-assessment tool

Revitalising a town centre involves coordinating a range of activities, possibly over many years to take places through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.


Using the ‘town centre checklist’

This updated self-assessment ‘town centre checklist’ for councils and their partners uses a series of prompts to help gauge current and future progress in strategy development and delivery. It incorporates guidance and prompts from the stages of IPM’s Recovery Framework and is available as a free, downloadable checklist for creating a town centre recovery plan. Ideally it should be used as part of a six-monthly or annual review process as the different factors are progressively addressed.

The checklist’s ‘success factors’ form the components for preparing a ‘forward framework’ for revitalising town or city centres. Links to policy and practice guidance for each success factor are provided by clicking on the right-hand toolkit menu. These links for each success factor includes built-in information on COVID-19 recovery planning. 

Case study: reopening & revitalising Selby, a town centre checklist

In summer 2020, Selby District Council faced the challenge of combining the immediate requirements for reopening Selby town centre as part of COVID 19 recovery planning, with delivering existing long-term priorities for revitalisation. This case study summarises how, in doing so, Selby adopted an approach of reopening the town centre in a safe and welcoming way while adding to long-term revitalisation planning through rapid learning, testing of new ideas, developing local capacity and partnership working. To help achieve this, Selby turned to the guidance in the LGA’s updated self-assessment ‘town centre checklist’ for assessing progress with such a comprehensive approach.

FOUNDATION

Evidence and objectives

Has a baseline survey of issues been completed including COVID-19 impacts, objectives defined and short/long-term outcome monitoring ‘dashboard’ agreed?

FUNCTION

Travel, parking, and access

Is an integrated town centre travel, parking and access strategy in place with immediate social distancing measures and transition to increased sustainability?

Planning and property

Are town-centre-first policies, master-planning or asset management in place that take account of COVID-19 impacts and engage businesses and landlords?

Streetscape and public realm

Is there tailored mentoring and support to enhance the quality, performance and distinctiveness of businesses based on recovery needs and future trends?

Business support

 

Is there tailored training/mentoring and a strategy to enhance the quality and distinctiveness of retail, services, hospitality and leisure businesses based on current provision, trends and knowledge of competing centres?

Place branding and marketing

Is there a clear understanding of the town brand with pooled resources and a creative, collective campaign offering reassurance to existing and new markets?

Digital tech and data

Is there an assessment of digital infrastructure and skills with an investment plan for the collective use of data in marketing and monitoring the town centre?

FORM

Governance and influence

Is there an appropriate structure, membership and credibility to coordinate local stakeholder activity and influence cross-departmental or strategic partnerships?

FOLK

Community engagement and co-ordination

Is there strong public, private and community engagement with active and coordinated involvement in planning and delivery that extends to community assets development and is backed by a clear communications plan? 

Capacity and team mapping

Are there an effective chair, suitably skilled board, employment of necessary staff, effective management of trained volunteers and established relationships for joint working with other stakeholder groups?

FUNDING

Finances and investment

Is there an organisation with robust financial procedures and strategy agreed for diverse and sustainable fund raising and income to support a town centre? Is it 'run as a business' with inter-relationships understood and investment secured?

FORWARD PLANNING

Strategy and plans

Is there a well-defined ‘forward framework’ comprising an overarching vision/strategy, a rolling organisational business plan and a parallel action plan coordinating and monitoring delivery on the ground?