The Heritage Council has called for the establishment of a national organisation to promote and support the sustainable development of our town and city centres. The Heritage Council has prepared a submission in response to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s recent Draft Retail Planning Guidelines, published on 22nd November 2011.
Given the fundamental role of towns in the domestic economy, the Heritage Council’s submission calls for the setting up of a national organisation to help plan for their future, similar to the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) based in London or the Downtown Association in the United States. Such an organisation has the potential to work in partnership with the Heritage Council’s Irish Walled Towns Network (IWTN) and the Local Authority Heritage Officers’ Network.
Heritage Council planning officer Alison Harvey comments: “The Heritage Council’s submission also calls for effective and collaborative Town Centre Management (TCM) strategies to be delivered in historic towns. These bring all stakeholders together to create a ‘shared vision’ for the future of each town centre and have the potential to act as a catalyst for growth and regeneration.”
Effective management of our town centres is critical in the battle for economic recovery. Town Centre Management strategies improve the visitor experience and urban environment by focusing on the quality of public buildings and spaces, streetscapes and town centre activity. This improves the business environment and overall quality of life.
As a first step, an annual Town Centre Health Check can help identify how healthy your town is and inform plans to shape its future. The Heritage Council has been championing the design and implementation of Town Centre Management Strategies and Town Centre Health Checks in Ireland since 2006 and has introduced numerous projects in various historic town centres in partnership with Local Authorities, local communities and Chambers of Commerce, including: Athenry, Balbriggan, Birr, Fethard, Kilrush, and Wicklow.