Town centre action plan review: joint Scottish Government and COSLA response

Joint response from SG and COSLA to the New Future for Scotland's Town Centres report. Sets out some of the ways in which we can all seek to do our part, locally and nationally, in rebuilding, reenergising and reimagining our towns to meet our place and country ambitions.

Foreword – Tom Arthur MSP – Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth

I was born in Paisley and brought up in Barrhead so I am well aware of the challenges industrial, social and economic change can bring. These two towns also show what can be done when people, communities, local and national governments and other organisations, public and private, work together to build on existing local assets, tell the story of a place and capture and harness the imagination and pride that people have in relation to their town centres. It is this collaboration that has been at the heart of our internationally recognised approach.

We commissioned the Review of the first Town Centre Action Plan in July 2020. We asked the Review Group to consider our progress, provide a vision for town centres and make recommendations for how we could do better, including in our living with Covid response around town centres. The report "A New Future for Scotland's Town Centres"[1] was published in February 2021 and set out a clear vision for the future of our towns and town centres and recommendations for action. Some of these recommendations are challenging but as whole they set a clear direction and were welcomed by the Scottish Government.

However, the Scottish Government can only do so much itself. We can set the direction, provide encouragement, frameworks and some funding. Yet towns are essentially local and our role at that detailed level is necessarily limited. This Town Centre Action Plan 2 is a national Call to Action, 'owned' by all and sets the freedom and confidence to deliver locally. It has come together from a large conversation across Scotland, developing the detail and the ways of implementing "A New Future for Scotland's Town Centres", listening to and working with voices of individuals, groups, communities, organisations, businesses and councils.

Towns and their town centres are vital for Scotland's collective wellbeing: our economy, society and environment. We start from a very good position given our internationally lauded approach developed in the first Town Centre Action Plan and our consequent actions and policies; but together our towns can achieve so much more.

We support the vision adopted by the Review Group and re-affirm our commitment to the principles which underpin our approach. What remains crucial to the future success of our towns and town centres is collaborative partnership working which delivers upon a shared vision to improve outcomes for people, communities and town centres and resists doing that which may cause harm. We all have a role to play.

Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth.



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