Town centre regeneration

Towns are challenged continually by changes to the way we do business – whether this is loss of industry, manufacturing or shops, or changes arising from technology and digital connectivity.

We aim to support towns to adapt to these changes, so that they continue to meet the needs of residents, businesses and visitors.

Sustainable regeneration of our towns can only be achieved through collaboration and investment which include or are led by local communities.

Town Centre Action Plan

We published the Town Centre Action Plan: Scottish Government response in November 2013 in response to the final report of the National Town Centres Review. The plan is helping to stimulate a wide range of activity across public and private sectors to revitalise town centres.

We have since published the following update reports:

Town Centre First Principle

We agreed the Town Centre First Principle with COSLA leaders in July 2014, marking a significant shift in public policy towards town centres. It asks that government, local authorities, the wider public sector, businesses and communities put the health of town centres at the heart of proportionate and best-value decision making, seeking to deliver the best local outcomes regarding investment and de-investment decisions, alignment of policies, targeting of available resources to priority town centre sites, and encouraging vibrancy, equality and diversity.

In making the agreement, we committed to a collaborative approach which understands and underpins the long-term plan for each town centre.

The Principle is not a duty and it is not prescriptive. Taking local needs and circumstances into account, it is about:

  • adopting an approach to decisions that considers the vibrancy of town centres as a starting point
  • ensuring that the health of town centres features in decision-making processes
  • open, measured and transparent decision making that takes account of medium to longer-term impacts on town centres
  • recognising that town centre locations are not always suitable and making sure that the reasons for locating elsewhere are transparent and backed by evidence

Local authorities and wider public bodies have embraced the principle since its inception and are driving positive change by prioritising town centres in public investment decisions.

Scotland's Towns Partnership (STP)

STP is Scotland's largest towns collective. It represents and promotes the diversity of towns and places, and supports those organisations and groups that have an interest in or ownership of them. It is a key partner in helping to deliver the ambitions set out in the Town Centre Action Plan.

We are currently funding STP to produce a digital towns pilot programme that will encourage new strategic collaborations, improve participation and skills and create scalable best practice models for deployment of digital connectivity in Scotland's towns/town centres.

Find out more on the Scotland's Towns Partnership website.

Town Centre Toolkit

The Town Centre Toolkit, hosted on STP's website, gives communities information and advice on how they can make their town centres more attractive, active and accessible.

Understanding Scottish Places (USP)

Understanding Scottish Places (USP) is an online platform for towns' practitioners and communities. It is designed to help us better understand the function of the towns in which we live and work and provides the opportunity to compare and contrast towns across Scotland.

USP was developed by a consortium involving STP, Carnegie UK Trust, the University of Stirling and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies. The project has been funded by the Scottish Government and Carnegie UK Trust.

Visit the USP portal.