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Platform: A town centre property innovation programme

We’re excited to announce that Shoosmiths is one of the partners behind Platform – a six-month campaign that aims to make town centre property more accessible to communities and businesses.

Being based in thirteen locations across the UK and with many clients whose businesses rely on a successful town centre, Shoosmiths is heavily invested in the issue of urban revival. There is a huge challenge for us all to ensure town centre property and space is accessible for communities and businesses, as well as providing opportunities for development and investment, and we are keen to work with our fellow programme partners - High Streets Task Force, Power to Change, British Property Federation, New Local, and Radix, as well as systems change leader Rebecca Trevalyan – to explore what needs to be done to bring about meaningful positive change.

Why town centre property?

The pandemic has catalysed the decline of traditional retail as the dominant offer in our town centres. There is a growing consensus that a significant part of most town centres need to have a greater focus on community, be experiential and better address local needs.

But to do that, we need to change town centre property practices. According to Mark Robinson, co-founder of Ellandi and Chair of the High Streets Task Force, “Retail property was a £72 billion industry and we are starting on the journey about what comes next – so this conversation about how to place communities at the centre of this change is really important.”

Platform aims to make use of this unique moment to redesign how we organise the land and buildings at the heart of our neighbourhoods, conscious of the fact that:

  • 14% of UK shops are empty, and over 800,000 retail and hospitality jobs have been lost due to the pandemic;
  • Fragmented high street ownership and some traditional property practices are serving neither communities, local governments, nor property owners;
  • There’s a lack of trust and collaboration between community entrepreneurs, local authorities and property owners;
  • The loneliness crisis, heightened by the pandemic, means there’s a need more than ever for spaces and services that bring together diverse local people; and
  • The ecological and climate crises mean there’s a need for spaces and services that help us all to live low-waste, low-carbon lives.

With all this in mind, how might we make it easier for communities to be involved in their town centres? This is the guiding question for the programme.

Want to join the programme?

We’re looking for 15 leaders from across the UK with personal experience of the retail/commercial property system – ranging from community entrepreneurs to local government to property owners – to join us to:

  • Share their experience;
  • Spotlight existing innovations in property access and ownership;
  • Identify ways to grow these innovations;
  • Lead the debate on how we move beyond the outdated ‘landlord–tenant’ relationship, towards partners in place; and
  • Discuss and share any key policy recommendations with relevant government departments.

What does Platform hope to achieve?

  • A menu of practical interventions that make town centre property more accessible to communities – and a plan for scaling such interventions;
  • Shared understanding of different types of community entrepreneurs and their needs, and different types of property owners and their motivations;
  • Templates - where helpful for scaling interventions – whether ‘social value leases’, or blueprints for establishing local asset-owning trusts;
  • More relationships, trust and understanding between public and private property owners, and community leaders;
  • Shared consensus on what further innovation and policy change is required and an understanding of this consensus by policy makers.

Long-term success looks like communities in towns and cities across the UK using property as a platform to meet local needs – plus widespread adoption of new viable models among both public and private property owners.

The ask and offer to participants

The ask to the 15 programme participants:

  • Approximately 1 day per month over 6 months, starting in June 2021;
  • A commitment to participating in conversation and follow-up actions constructively – this isn’t a talking shop!
  • A commitment to an ethos of trust and collaboration;
  • A commitment to Chatham House rules for the duration of the programme;
  • Agreement that all materials created in the programme will be made available and disseminated publicly. 

The offer to the 15 programme participants:

  • Opportunity to help grow pioneering property models for town centres around the UK – and to lead the narrative of community-led places coming together in the aftermath of a global pandemic and recession;
  • Opportunity to build a network of leaders across property owners, local government, and community-led enterprise;
  • Opportunity to play a role in policy development and influence government.

How to apply

Take 10 minutes to fill out this light-touch application form.

We will select participants who:

  • Have motivation and availability for the programme;
  • Represent a balanced mix of community entrepreneurs, local governments, property owners and other property system stakeholders; and
  • Represent diverse geographies and demographics.

Deadline for applications: Tuesday 25th May at 6pm

Any questions? Please contact Programme Lead Rebecca via [email protected]

Want to follow our progress?

Please do sign up to the mailing list here to hear updates and opportunities emerging from the programme.

FAQs

Why a limit of 15 participants?

Whilst we would love to be able to make this programme open to everyone, we recognise that the more voices we have on online calls, the harder it is to ensure airtime for everyone and depth of conversation.

As a systems change programme, we want to ensure representation of many stakeholders and perspectives in town centre property, including a balanced mix of geographies and demographics – we hope to achieve this with a group of 15 people plus programme partners.

Wherever possible, we will publicly share programme conversations, actions and opportunities for involvement – please do sign up to the mailing list to follow along!

Why this group of partners?

Each of the six partners involved in the programme represents a different stakeholder group in the UK town centre property system. We believe no single stakeholder group can change complex systems like property. Each of us will bring our unique perspectives and networks, to find solutions that work for local people and places around the country.

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. 

© Shoosmiths LLP 2021.

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