Since 1997, the Government have put in place a range of policy initiatives and measures to assist local authorities to deliver an urban renaissance, including the re-development of town and city centres.
The Urban White Paper “Our Towns and Cities: the Future” published in 2000 identified a range of measures (policies, programmes and tax incentives) to foster and support an urban regeneration, including city centre renewal.
Over £2 billion in funds is provided annually to England’s nine regional development agencies (RDAs) to promote regional economic growth and urban regeneration, including support for city centre renaissance. English Partnerships (EP), the national regeneration agency, has a direct role in fostering urban renaissance. Together with the RDAs, EP has helped set up 21 urban regeneration companies, in partnership with local authorities, to drive forward regeneration projects many of them targeted on city centre re-development.
National economic stability has provided a solid foundation for local economic strategies and public-private partnerships which have attracted huge investment into city centre initiatives. Major public investment in civic squares, parks, open spaces, parks and river frontages has also attracted private investors to commit funds to major city centre schemes.
Through the Government’s Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for Town Centres (March 2005), assistance is given to local authorities and stakeholders on how to plan proactively for the redevelopment of town centres. It advises on how the Government’s key objective, to promote the vitality and viability of town centres, should be taken into account in producing statutory development plans, and determining planning applications for town centre uses, such as retail, leisure and office development.
Also in March 2005, the Government published the “How to Manage Town Centres” guide, to assist local councils and other stakeholders in applying the powers and tools available for tackling priority issues, particularly those related to making town centres safer and cleaner. The guide includes examples of innovative approaches for using them and examples of good practice, and outlines the importance of pooling and sharing local information, responsive and pro-active local leadership, developing town centre strategies which are linked to local planning, crime and disorder reduction, licensing and transport strategies, and partnership working.