In May of this year, the Institute of Place Management (IPM) started working with Warwickshire County Council, on a two-part programme to identify the key factors that will influence the future of their towns and high streets and provide them with tools and insight to manage these changes and transform their offer. The ambitious project has bought together a range of stakeholders to better understand the big challenges that Warwickshire places face in a post-pandemic world.
The first part of the programme considered the ‘big picture elements’ bringing in expert guest speakers to discuss topics such as the importance of green space, changes to retail and the high street, creating accessible and inclusive places and managing local tourism and the night-time economy, post pandemic. The sessions were completed with a detailed follow up, which included edited recordings and the provision of links to resources detailed on the high streets task force resource library as well as other topical reports.
The big picture discussions informed the final interactive stage of part one. In this final session, the group moved on to talk about “Changing Places “and considered the local application of the IPM’s key frameworks, - the 25 factors for vitality and viability. This interactive session surveyed the webinar participants, asking them to rank the importance of each of the 25 factors in their centre as well as indicating how well each of the 25 factors were resourced. Following the survey, breakout rooms were set up to discuss the factors in more depth, with each group asked to identify three top priorities for the county.
The data and information gathered from the sessions described above have recently been analysed and written up into a 15-page report by the IPM research team. The report summarised the general issues that face centres and high streets and the key findings for Warwickshire which included: accessibility, adaptability and appearance of place as key focus factors for the county.
The second part of the programme will focus on ways to combat some of the common issues at a local level by exploring the IPM’s s four-element framework for regeneration 'the 4Rs.’ This will be an in-depth discussion which will build on the contextual approach taken in the first part of this programme. This will take a workshop format, bringing together local stakeholders to explore and identify the priorities for centres in Warwickshire and construct their own fishbone analysis based on the 4Rs. The event will be supplemented by resources and toolkits available from the High Street Task Force website.
With the recent return to in-person events, it has been decided that the second phase will conclude with a face-to face stakeholder meeting which will bring people together in Warwick. Discussing the forthcoming event, programme leader Dr Steve Millington said:
“We have had some good engagement on the programme so far, but I think it will be great to get the stakeholders in a room together to consolidate the discussions and learning so far and to further discuss the areas of concern and work together to come up with practical solutions using some of our framework and resources”.
The event in November will take the form of an extended 4-hour stakeholder workshop, with the main focus of the session being on discussion and consensus building.
The IPM offer support to members through products some as the vital and viable programme which aim to help centres prepare for the future by data gathering and bringing together stakeholders in a place. If you think your centre would benefit from some support from the institute, please click here to learn more.