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Town Centre Regeneration: TCRF Case Studies Report

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11 CASE STUDIES: OVERALL CONCLUSIONS:

11.1 The Research Team was commissioned to scope out the nature of the outputs and longer term outcomes, to understand how town centre regeneration works and what it can achieve. The purpose of the research is to develop a clearer understanding of the activities taking place as part of town centre regeneration and the outputs and outcomes that follow on from this. The impetus for the research was the Town Centre Regeneration Fund ( TCRF) and therefore the research aims to identify and measure progress towards the outcomes of the interventions supported by TCRF; however, the research also aims to draw out and explore wider lessons for town centre regeneration.

11.2 This report was prepared as part of Stage 4 of the research and summarises the baseline position in the nine case study areas and the TCRF projects that have been selected. Fieldwork in the nine Case Study areas was originally undertaken during late April/early May 2010 and the Case Study areas were revisited in January/early February 2011. The baseline position for each of the case studies is summarised in Chapters 2- 10. The key overall conclusions from this final stage of the research are summarised below and have helped to shape the conclusions, findings and recommendations of the Final Report that is presented separately.

TCRF & TCRF Projects Origins

11.3 In all nine case studies the TCRF projects were not developed specifically for the TCRF submission and the projects were mostly opportunistic and had their roots in a number of earlier strategy documents. Therefore, in most cases the TCRF projects sit within a relatively clear town centre strategy that includes a vision and forward/action plan for the particular town centre.

11.4 Many of the Local Authorities specifically filtered out potential projects that were not capable of being delivered within the original six to nine month timescale. This will have helped determine the types of projects that were presented to the Fund at the application stage and the eventual selection of successful projects. In essence, the TCRF will have funded projects that were already developed and capable of quick delivery.

11.5 Working up the TCRF project applications and being successful in obtaining funding has, in most cases, significantly improved relationships with key town centre partners and, in some cases, given the town's residents and business renewed confidence and an appetite for further regeneration. On a number of occasions, local authorities actively canvassed opinion from stakeholders on other projects that could be delivered.

11.6 The development of the TCRF bids involved the commitment of significant staff time on the part of the projects, particularly given the compressed timescales. There is evidence from some projects that the timescale also compressed the ability of projects to negotiate value for money in some contracts. On the other hand, other projects stated that they were able to negotiate good value for money (see paragraph 11.8).

11.7 The 'pivotal' nature of TCRF in some cases is acknowledged in that some projects would not have proceeded without TCRF funding. TCRF was also widely attributed with bringing projects to fruition faster than would have otherwise have been the case.

TCRF Project Delivery

11.8 In all of the case study areas, TCRF contractual commitments had been completed by 31 March 2010; however, five of the case studies have projects that have been delayed and will not be completed by the end of March 2011 (see Table 11.1: Town Centre Research: Case Studies Overview). Therefore, it will be some time before the individual case studies project's outcomes and impact can be fully assessed.

Table 11.1: Town Centre Research: Case Studies Overview

Case StudyPop ulation
(2008)
Town Type ( SG Urban Rural Classification& Experian)ProjectsProgressTown Centre Regeneration
Future Strategic Themes
1.Stromness1,950Remote Rural
Growing Gateways
  • Public realm works
  • Ducting for IT infrastructure
Delayed: full completion July'12
  • Tourism/visitors: cruise ships
  • Pierhead Gallery
  • Renewables
  • Pierhead Regeneration
  • Existing Townscape Heritage Initiative
2. Elgin21,000Accessible Small Town
  • Streetscape upgrade
  • Services to events space
  • Gateway to centre
  • Shop front improvement
  • Street cleaning machines
  • Electronic tourism info. points
Completed
  • Improving accessibility/
    attractiveness
  • Stem leakage of spend
  • RAF Base Closures
  • Existing BID
3. Kirkcaldy50,600Other Urban
City Fringe Tenacity
  • Streetscape
  • Green corridor
  • Visitor signage
Phase 1: complete
Phase 2: April'11
  • Strengthen service economy
  • Stem leakage of spend
4. Kirkintilloch19,900Other Urban
Commuter Comfort
  • Infrastructure works EDC/ KI site
  • Town Hall into use
  • Public realm works
Mostly complete
  • Boost local economic performance
  • Improve as visitor destination
  • Concentrating retail provision
5. Govan66,000Large Urban
Cities: Restructuring
  • Pearce Institute roof
  • Public realm: Square
  • Public realm: Shopping Centre
  • Public realm: Station/
Interchange
Mostly complete
PI: April '11
  • Central Govan Action Plan
  • Southern Attractiveness appearance of arrival point
  • Transport Museum, Southern General & Pacific Quay investment
  • Existing Townscape Heritage Initiative
  • Potential BID
6. Barrhead18,100Small Urban
Settled Communities
  • Main Street shops
  • Main Street public realm
  • Main Street: shopping centre
  • Business centre
  • Cross Authurlie: Public realm
  • Cross Authurlie: Site acquisition/demolition
3/4 Projects complete
  • Town transformation: housing/
business space/ College
  • Potential BID
7. Airdrie36,400Other Urban
  • Mixed use development: demolition/new build
Delays: March'11
  • Improve economic performance
8. Millport1,400Remote Rural
  • Second phase works to Garrison House
Completed
  • Focus on small indigenous business & community development
9. Jedburgh4,000Accessible Small Town
Rural Challenge
  • Improvements to civic centre/events space
  • Business/ workshop space & community facilities
  • Expanded car parking
  • High quality children's play area
  • Town centre Wi-Fi internet
  • Landscaping, signage, orientation
Completed
  • Improve socio-economic performance

11.9 A number of case study contacts pointed out the 'advantage' to the client who is procuring the contracted capital works of particularly competitive tendering in a recession and the resultant 'saving' on anticipated project costs.

11.10 Generally, across the nine case studies, the quality of monitoring and evaluation of the impact of projects on actual outcomes was variable despite claims in the original TCRF applications that robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks would be put in place. Initially, and in most cases, the case study contacts had made only very rudimentary monitoring and evaluation plans. Among the exceptions are Govan, Barrhead, Kirkcaldy and Kirkintilloch. The follow up discussions with the case studies in January/early February 2011 confirmed in most cases the willingness in principle of the case study contacts to adopt the emerging framework for longer term monitoring and evaluation and collect the appropriate data. This was subject to adequate specialised staff, time and resources being available which is likely to be more challenging in the future in the 'era of austerity'.

Monitoring & Evaluation: Theory of Change

11.11 In contrast, the contract monitoring across the nine case studies was generally very good. Part of the explanation for this is the real focus of the 'project officers' on delivering projects and capital spend in the short/medium term rather than a focus on moving towards actual outcomes using a robust monitoring and evaluation framework. There is also something of a lack of a corporate view across the various Local Authority departments when it comes to town centre monitoring and evaluation and in some cases it is given lower priority and limited resources.

11.12 Rarely across the case studies had there been any attempt to link the longer term outcomes to the activities actually delivered. For example, there is often a limited explanation of the reach and influence that the TCRF projects are likely to have achieved or much clarity on intended beneficiaries (for example retail/service businesses, local employers, youth and residents).

11.13 Therefore, the main conclusions from the Case Studies research are:

  • The timescale of the study means that it is too early to evaluate the success or otherwise of the TCRF projects;
  • The quality of approaches to monitoring town centre performance and specifying project outputs and outcomes was variable at the outset. However, over the course of the study there have been a number of improvements;
  • There is some emerging evidence of LA's taking a more rigorous approach to town centre performance;
  • The case study visits and discussions with the contacts have helped bring greater clarity and focus to short and medium term output and outcome measures in the selected towns;
  • The contacts in the case study areas have in the main begun to think more coherently about bring these elements together to evaluate the impact of the projects; and
  • There are likely to be resulting resource and skills implications.

11.14 These issues are considered in detail in the Final Report for this research which is available as a separate document.

11.15 If a programme like TCRF is to be repeated then the main suggestions for Scottish Government coming from the case study contacts are:

  • The aim should be to build on the experience of TCRF so far and look to a 3/4 year rolling programme to allow better strategic planning;
  • Phasing the funding over 3/4 years would allow more considered responses, designs and other potential investment (lighting, seating etc);
  • Need to allow a longer timescale for the TCRF application process to ensure the full potential of projects and design issues are resolved;
  • Practitioners need to learn how to use Theories of Change as part of the project planning process and to follow through on monitoring and evaluation.