Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

The Contribution and Potential of Town Centre Management for Regeneration: Shifting Its Focus from 'Management' to 'Regeneration'

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

The Contribution and Potential of Town Centre Management for Regeneration: Shifting Its Focus from 'Management' to 'Regeneration'

Article excerpt

Following the rapid growth throughout the UK in adopting the concept of town centre management (TCM) over the last few decades, TCM has made a dramatic shift from its original 'janitorial' (managerial) function to a more strategic role in the regeneration of public space as well as the rebranding of town centres. Much of the recent research literature has highlighted TCM's effectiveness when judged against the intentions as those of recent regeneration programmes. Place marketing, retail and leisure development, surveillance measures and evening and night-time economies are all activities that involve TCM partnerships and initiatives. Consumption-based economic revitalisation and physical upgrading alone, however, are not sufficient for identifying the potential contribution of TCM within broader urban regeneration agendas. This paper examines the capacity of TCM to contribute towards the social as well as the economic and physical enhancement of local places and communities - that is, beyond its generally acknowledged commercial and business objectives.

Introduction: definitions of TCM and regeneration

This paper is intended to make a contribution to the debate about the forms that urban regeneration is currently taking in the UK, by acknowledging the crossovers and boundaries between conventionally understood urban regeneration, and the relatively recent activity of town centre management (TCM).

The definition of TCM has been discussed by a number of writers since Spriddell of Marks & Spencer, a leading nationwide multiple retailer, used the term 'TCM' for the first time in 1980. He defined the purpose of TCM as 'the enhancement of the quality of shopping in our town centres' (Spriddell, 1980, 38). In the early 1980s many high-street shops had faced increasing competition from a growing number of outof- town shopping centres on free-standing sites. Responding to this trend, the initial concept of TCM was based primarily on the retailing perspective. Nine years later, Baldock (1989, 50) defined it more broadly as 'a comprehensive response to competitive pressure, which involves development, management and promotion of town centres'. Since the mid-1980s the development of regional shopping centres and retail makes had further strengthened the attractiveness of out-of-town shopping centres by offering consumers an ever wider range of food, DIY goods, along with leisure activities such as large cinemas and sport facilities, which are beyond the capacity of the high street (Guy, 1994; Evans, 1997; Karski, 1998). Baldock (1989) argued that TCM was a necessary response to competitive pressures from the fast spreading phenomenon of out-of-town shopping centres. He also saw TCM as a tool for improving town-centre environments, which were suffering in comparison with the quality of the enclosed mall. At about the same time, the geographer Wells argued that TCM could be of benefit beyond the retailing sector:

Town centre management is a comprehensive response to competitive pressures, which involves development, management and promotion of both public and private area within town centres, for the benefit of all concerned. (Wells, 1991, 24, emphasis added)

Wells's definition is the first instance in the literature to include 'all users' such as residents and tourists, and all other town-centre activities in addition to shopping. As Ennen and Ashworth (1998) suggest, Wells's definition implies that TCM should aim at not only economic but also social goals. His definition has often been quoted and has been accepted as a key concept in the TCM literature since then (Page and Hardyman, 1996; Reeve, 1996; Warnaby et al., 1998; Ennen and Ashworth, 1998). Warnaby et al. (1998) extended Wells's notion of TCM as an activity for the benefit of all, seeing it as an activity which can involve all stakeholders as actors:

Town-centre management is the search for competitive advantage through the maintenance and/or strategic development of both public and private areas and interests within town centres, initiated and undertaken by stakeholders drawn from a combination of the public, private and voluntary sectors. …

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