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Town centre regeneration

Town centres are an important element of the economic and social fabric of Scotland, and therefore one of the main parts of our vision of regeneration: tackling area inequality, creating opportunities and improving communities.

National Review of Town Centres

The National Review of Town Centres took place between 2012 and 2014. Its aim was to consider and propose action to help town centres:

  • manage change
  • take advantage of opportunities
  • address the problems they face

The review was carried out by an External Advisory Group (EAG) that included representatives from small business, planning, transport and retail.

The group's report, 'Community and Enterprise in Scotland's Town Centres', was published in 2013.

Town Centre Action Plan

In response to the External Advisory Group's report, we published the Town Centre Action Plan.

The plan aims to encourage and support activity across public and private sectors to revitalise town centres.

It is the result of cross-government work to identify the policies, programmes and strategies which support the EAG's recommendations to be delivered locally and help local action.

We published the Town Centre Action Plan: year one progress report in November 2014 and the Town Centre Action Plan: year two progress report in February 2016.

Town Centre First Principle

The Town Centre First Principle encourages the public sector to continue to invest in town centres and to help communities thrive.

We developed the Principle with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and are encouraging public bodies to sign up to it.

"Town centres are a key element of the economic, social and environmental fabric of Scotland's towns. They are often at the core of community and economic life, offering spaces in which to live, meet and interact, do business, and access facilities and services. We must take collective responsibility to help town centres thrive sustainably, reinvent their function, and meet the needs of residents, businesses, and visitors for the 21st century.

"The Principle asks:

"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.

"We commit 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


Town Centre Communities Capital Fund

The £1.7 million Town Centre Communities Capital Fund was open to community organisations. Its aim was to support capital projects focused on making real and lasting improvements to town centres across Scotland.

Twenty projects were allocated grants from the fund in November 2015. This will help their communities to make the most of public assets in town centres, and improve amenities and first impressions in line with the Town Centre Action Plan, the Town Centre First Principle and guidance available through the Town Centre Toolkit.

We have also created more residential accommodation through our Town Centre Empty Homes Fund.

Town Centre Housing Fund

The Town Centre Housing Fund saw £2.75 million awarded to six projects in December 2013. Its aim was to help bring empty town centre properties back into use for affordable housing.

Town Centre Regeneration Fund (TCRF)

The Town Centre Regeneration Fund's (TCRF) aim was to support community and business leaders to regenerate and grow town centres to meet the needs of local communities and businesses.

The 2009 to 2010 TCRF was a £60 million fund which benefited projects from every local authority area. Sixty-six projects in 89 town centres received a share of the fund, and around 960 jobs were created.

The amounts awarded for individual projects ranged from £100,000 to £2,745,000 and included support for:

  • new-builds and renovation of key buildings for a variety of business and community uses
  • cosmetic improvements to high-street frontages and walkways
  • other public realm works