THE PLANNING RESEARCH CONFERENCE 2019:, Planning and Urban Design Responses to Address City Centre Decline

Event Start Date:
4th September 2019
Event End Date:
4th September 2019
Event Venue:
Darroch Room, Foresight Centre , University of Liverpool

Planning and Urban Design Responses to Address City Centre Decline

James T White, University of Glasgow


The story of post-war suburbanisation and downtown decline in the American city is well versed in the literature. Revitalisation strategies in some US cities have recently led to a new ‘downtown paradigm’ emerging, characterised by an emphasis on ‘urban living’. Towns and cities in the UK largely avoided the post-war decline experienced in American downtowns but have recent faced a similar unsettling caused, in large part, by a dramatic series of retail closures.

In this paper five themes relating urban design to retail and effective use of city centre space are identified from an in-depth review of the literature – heritage-oriented urban design, sustainability-oriented urban design, more flexible land use, informal land use and temporary urbanism, and intensification.  We also we share land use and typology metrics from four mid-sized UK cities to argue that the experience of UK cites appears analogous to that faced in the US some forty years before.We ask whether lessons about market intervention, planning incentivisation, and typo-morphological innovation are translatable to the UK and, in so doing, make a contribution to the critical discourse on ‘comparative tactics’ and the mobility of planning policies and design practice innovations.

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