Town Centre Regeneration: TCRF Case Studies Report

The report presents findings of research undertaken in nine case study areas that received funding from the Town Centre Regeneration Fund (TCRF). The report highlights baseline measures for monitoring town centre regeneration activity relative to each case study. The report is one of four publications produced by this research.


1.1 The Research Team of Douglas Wheeler Associates Ltd with Slims Consulting, Ryden and Avril Blamey & Associates was commissioned by the Regeneration Division within the Housing and Regeneration Directorate of the Scottish Government 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 was 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.

1.2 Fieldwork in the nine Case Study areas was originally undertaken during late April/early May 2010 with some data not being made available until late summer 2010. A second wave of data collection and visits to the Case Study areas was carried out in January/early February 2011. This report reflects the results and conclusions of the January/early February 2011 research.

Town Centre Regeneration Fund

1.3 The aim of the TCRF was to support community and business leaders to regenerate and grow town centres in order to meet the needs of local communities and businesses. The fund was capital only and so could not support non-investment activity. The fund was available from 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010, with deadlines for applications in June and August 2009. All funding had to be claimed by March 2010. The way in which the TCRF was established with capital only funding, tight deadlines and the criteria used to select projects present challenges in terms of developing effective evaluation plans with the case study projects. Applicants had a relatively short period of time for the development of applications.

Selection of Case Study Towns

1.4 The approach used to select the nine case studies was initially informed by:

  • Feedback from Local Authorities via an on-line survey carried out in December 2009 that helped establish local authorities who already held some relevant town centre regeneration baseline data and were willing case study participants;
  • The detailed review of all 66 successful applications for funding from the Town Centre Regeneration Fund ( TCRF) to help identify a typical cross section of TCRF projects;
  • Further desk research by and discussions between the Research Team on the availability of data for monitoring the performance of the case study town centres.

1.5 The nine case studies were then selected from a long list based on a number of criteria including the activity type of the projects. Here, the emphasis was on physical infrastructure projects to reflect the fact 42% of the TCRF projects focussed on public realm, accessibility and townscape improvements. The next most popular primary activities are housing, leisure & recreation, or community facilities (28%), and business, commercial or retail space (22%). Between them, these three categories account for some 92% of all primary activities.

1.6 A second important criterion was to ensure a representative sample by geography and town type using the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification 2007-2008. The final selection was finalised after discussions with the Research Advisory Group and consultations with the case study project representatives at the first case study workshop in February 2010.

1.7 The nine case study areas selected were:

  • Stromness, Orkney Council
  • Elgin, Moray Council
  • Kirkcaldy, Fife Council
  • Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire Council
  • Govan Town Centre, Glasgow City Council
  • Barrhead, East Renfrewshire Council
  • Airdrie, North Lanarkshire Council
  • Millport, Argyll and Bute Council
  • Jedburgh, Scottish Borders Council

1.8 The selected case study areas are therefore of varying types and scales and are located in very different settings, ranging from: town centres within cities; town centres on the edge of cities; town centres in rural areas; town centres on islands; and larger free standing towns. This presented some challenges to the Research Team in terms of the availability of key data sets.

Initial Proposals for Baselining the Town Centres

1.9 The initial approach to the baseline was based on a number of principles. Essentially the baseline should include a range of economic, social and other indicators that:

  • Recognise and reflect the different contexts that town centres operate in;
  • Allow comparisons, as far as possible, between town centres;
  • Reflect the contribution that town centres can make to the achievement of the GES[1] Purpose targets;
  • Follow best practice guidance on town centre performance currently in place and particularly Scottish Planning Policy [2];
  • Be honest and practical about what can be delivered and reflect measurement activity currently being undertaken by town centres;
  • Acknowledge that identifying specific attribution to TCRF will be a challenge as in most cases the TCRF funding is only one portion of the total cost of the project;
  • Build capacity within TCRF projects to track change.

Baseline Data & Town Definition

1.10 Therefore, the baseline data for each case study is presented at three consistent geographical levels:

  • A set of contextual measures at the local authority level, which described the economic and social context within which town centres with TCRF projects were located;
  • A set of town centre measures that described the key characteristics of the town centres within which the projects were located;
  • A set of project specific measures which would describe in detail the activities, outputs and outcomes.

1.11 The baseline data is presented across six key themes. For the purpose of the baseline and in each case study, the relevant town has been defined using the Data Zones identified in the Appendix. Where it has not been possible to obtain relevant information at a data zone level, the baseline has used the relevant Census Area Statistic ( CAS) wards that are also identified in the Appendix. The other spatial levels considered in this baseline are the relevant local authority area and Scotland at the national level.

1.12 Data on labour market participation is not available from the Annual Population Survey at the town level and therefore the workless benefit claimant rate has been used as a [3] proxy for labour market participation. Jobseekers Allowance ( JSA) has also been used and is a benefit available to people of working age who are unemployed and looking for work. There has been a rapid increase in the number of JSA claimants across the UK over the past eighteen months as a result of the recession.

1.13 The information and data included in the baseline report has been sourced from:

  • Published social and economic data at three levels for the town centre, local authority and Scotland;
  • Data provided by the case study ( e.g. town centre health check and BID data);
  • Data from reviewing TCRF applications, Schedule 6 Progress Reports and other documents;
  • Face to face and telephone interviews with case study and other contacts as identified.

1.14 In developing the baseline, the role of the Research Team was to identify and gather appropriate evidence for both the contextual and the town centre measures. In terms of project specific measures the role of the Research Team was to offer advice and guidance on the appropriateness of project specific measures that have been identified in the original project applications and to collate and report on what data was available. This approach recognised that the Research Team did not expect, nor have the resources to gather data for the project specific measures.

1.15 None of the local authority level data contained in this report has been updated from the baseline report that was revised in November 2010. This is because the vast majority of this data has not yet been updated through publically available data sources. The only exception to this is the data on employment and the business base, which in the original baseline report was reported from the Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI). The ABI has now been replaced by the Business Register and Employment Survey ( BRES) which is available for 2009. This data set however is not available in a time series any further back than 2008.

Report: Structure

1.16 This report for each case study draws together the key work of the Research Team. For each case study it contains:

  • Contextual background to the town/town centre;
  • An outline of the TCRF project ;
  • A detailed baseline description of socio-economic and other conditions prior to the commencement of the project presented across six key themes;
  • Details of progress to date with the project: as at January/early February 2011;
  • A review of the project specific performance indicators;
  • A summary of the 'before and after' performance indicators including activities and the expected project outputs and outcomes;
  • A brief conclusion highlighting the effectiveness of the performance indicators related to the emerging Theory of Change.

1.17 The final chapter includes a summary of overall conclusions that have helped to shape the conclusions, findings and recommendations of the Final Report for this research that is presented separately.

1.18 The Research Team is grateful for the assistance from the case study contacts. The remainder of the report summarises baseline for the case studies as follows:

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