Skip to main content

Supporting our members through the Coronavirus pandemic

Because of the unprecedented nature of the Coronavirus crisis, it quickly became clear that there was not a ‘ready-made’ response in most locations. So, the Institute of Place Management, mobilised quickly, working with our community of place professionals, to generate guidance and support focussed upon managing in the crisis whilst also planning the recovery. In this article we reflect on this support, as well as explaining how much of this can still be accessed through the IPM Members’ Area. A short ‘how to’ video is available here to explain how to get into the Members’ Area.

Recovery framework

In order to assist place managers who are responsible with the enormous task of supporting their cities and towns through the pandemic, the IPM developed a Coronavirus Recovery Framework. The Framework was designed to help place leaders take the most effective action in the immediate crisis, as well as build the capacity for recovery and longer-term transformation. The framework has been adapted and further developed to incorporate the most up to date insights and on the ground experiences from members to ensure it remains relevant.

It has been great to see so many members (both BIDs and Councils) around the UK and internationally adopt and adapt the framework to their locality. An adaptable version of the framework is available to download from our website. (Please note you have to be logged into the members' area to access the resources)

The COVID-19 Recovery Framework formed the basis for a webinar series. The five-part series included a one-hour webinar focused on each stage of the framework (crisis, pre-recovery, recovery, and transformation) - with the first webinar explaining the framework in the COVID-19 context. Drawing on our network of place leaders and professionals, we had 14 different guest speakers throughout the series all providing different perspectives and insights on the pandemic. The series, which ran from 24th April – 22nd May, is still available to view here.

Alongside the Covid recovery series, we have and continue to run a weekly support webinar for UK based Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) as part of our offer to The BID Foundation. The BID Foundation is made up of IPM members, who are leading the evolution of the BID industry.

This has been a particularly uncertain time for BIDs who are reliant on the yearly collection of levy fees to ensure day to day running and delivery of the BID, which, as we have seen through the crisis, is an important place delivery organisation. The weekly webinar, supported by Senior Fellow and BID expert Dr Julie Grail, as well as Project Manager, Ben Stevenson, has addressed concerns about the financial support for BIDs, ballots, levy collection and a host of additional BID related issues. This weekly forum has been delivered every week since 25th March, in addition, separate groups convened specifically for BID communications and operations ran weekly from 28th March – 27th April. The support forum continues for BIDs, with the webinars now taking place every other week.

Covid-19 guidance documents

Each week alongside the ‘post-covid recovery framework’ series, the IPM team used the 25 vitality and viability priorities to identify action to be taken, or things to consider, at the relevant stage of the recovery framework to support place managers. Although the pandemic has created an unprecedented situation, having such a solid evidence base to prompt action and discussion has been very useful to practitioners.

Our 25 priorities have been mapped against each stage of the recovery framework and are available to download here.

Daily UK footfall statistics

Footfall in the UK has been falling since the end of February as a result of Covid-19. March saw footfall drop significantly with figures down more than 85% compared to the same period last year.

As the professional body for place management the Institute has been heavily involved in understanding the impact of COVID-19 and supporting government and our practitioners, including those in The BID Foundation. We are fortunate that our long-term collaboration with partners Springboard means that we have access to hourly footfall figures across the UK and have been able to publish a daily high street footfall index, tracking UK high street footfall and changes in footfall across four town types.

We continue to update our footfall graphs daily and analyse the effect of Covid-19 on this key metric for high streets. Click here to see the latest data.

International Leadership Forum – Webinar Series

Led by our Berlin-based Director, Professor Ares Kalandides, we have organised a number of internationally focused webinars, which have brought together place professionals and leaders from across Europe and further afield. The series has focussed on a number of key questions:

  • How are local authorities and place managers around the world reacting to the pandemic?
  • What can we learn from the different lockdown and recovery strategies that are/have being adopted?
  • What might be the longer-term effects of COVID-19 globally?
  • How do we be better prepared for tomorrow and how can we lead change?

The latest in the series took place on the 7th July and brought together partners on the interreg project ABCitEs. If you missed it, click here to catch up. We have more internationally focussed activity planned for September, watch out for further announcements.

COVID-19 Research

The IPM has a dedicated team of researchers that are constantly looking into how the pandemic is affecting high streets and town centres. New research they have undertaken includes a survey into business resilience, which received over 1000 responses from businesses around England, thanks to the help of The BID Foundation, ATCM and British BIDs in disseminating the survey to levy payers.

The results of the survey were compiled into a report and released back in May. This research was undertaken at the request of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government through the High Streets Task Force.

In addition, the team has been researching the effects and specifications needed to implement social distancing measures which resulted in the publication of working paper ‘Proposing the lower bounds of area needed for individuals to social distance across a range of town centre environments’. This is the first paper in the new IPM working series, with more publications planned in the near future.

Influencing policy and government advice

Through our research and leading expertise, we have been asked on a number of occasions to advise government and have been able to inform and influence national policy. Some of this is through our delivery of the High Streets Task Force Programme, but it also important that IPM keeps its independence and can comment and influence in its own right.  We have been heavily involved in informing government in England and Wales on BID policy and support, including England’s £6.1m support fund for BIDs, with The BID Foundation, as well as advising on social distancing in public space measures and guidance for MHCLG.

COVID-19 E-learning

The academic team, in partnership with IPM Fellow Keith Still, also developed a Covid-19 e-learning course. The various e-learning materials are aimed to help inform place managers of the potential hazards linked to COVID-19 and develop appropriate mitigation strategies. Nearly 200 people have registered an interest in studying the course, the course is exclusively available to IPM members at a cost of £100.

Individual membership bursaries

This has been and continues to be a challenging time for many place management professionals, as the sectors’ professional body we aim to support place professionals as much as possible. We offered a bursary scheme to members experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 whereby we extended membership until the end of August (31st August 2020) free of charge. This scheme enabled more than 20 members to retain membership and access the products and services they needed to support their places recovery efforts.



About the author


Formed in 2006, the Institute of Place Management is the international professional body that supports people committed to developing, managing and making places better.

Back to top