Malcolm Fraser, Chair, External Advisory Group

It is significant that we start this National Review with such strong encouragement from Government; but it’s also necessary to answer the sceptics’ question: why? Why are town centres so important that they deserve such special treatment? In answer we make three assertions:

First: That they are places of creativity and enterprise. The argument is generally accepted, that bustling cities are a nation’s economic powerhouses, where social and cultural interaction drives innovation and wealth-creation. Scotland would benefit from more big-city-bustle. But big powerhouses also need a network of vigorous, smaller centres around them, and some of our town centres have lost that drive.

Scotland needs its networks of urban places to work more effectively, and regain their creative, commercial bustle.

Second: Is a simple democratic right that the wealth and breadth of the built environment should be available to all. Town centres allow us to share resources and services. Their density means that shops, workplaces, leisure, culture and public services are near, and if we don’t actually live amongst them, they are still where public transport goes, and are accessible to the whole community.

Not all of us drive, and we are disenfranchised by a scattered, out-of-town environment accessible only by car.

Third: That these long-established places are our true eco-towns, resources whose health is critical to a sustainable future. The lesson we should learn from our financial trouble is the same as that needed to address the challenge of climate change: that we need to be less reckless with resources, and make best use of our existing, renewable ones before discarding them. In the built environment that’s our old buildings, and existing town centres.

Publication / National Review of Town Centres, External Advisory Group Report, The Scottish Government.

Malcolm Fraser led The Scottish Government’s National Review of Town Centres – the Fraser Review – with an accompanying panel of industry and community experts.

We want to take every measure possible to ensure our town centres are vibrant places
Nicola Sturgeon