Commission publishes vision for Liverpool City Region’s Towns

An independent Commission which involves the University of Liverpool’s Professor Alex Singleton has published its vision for prosperous, futureproof local town centres which will help drive the city region’s post-Covid recovery.

The independent Commission, the first of its kind in the country, was established by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority in January 2020, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, to set out a vision for prosperous town centres in the Liverpool City Region.

Together with IPPR North, they undertook research which focused on town centres in Widnes, Runcorn, Halton Lea, Huyton, Kirkby, Prescot, Southport, Bootle, St Helens, Earlstown, Birkenhead, Liscard (Wallasey), Heswall, Moreton, New Brighton and West Kirby, as well as Liverpool city centre.

They found the Covid-19 pandemic has had a very severe impact on the Liverpool City Region and has accelerated many of the challenges that local town centres have faced in recent years, like retail decline. However, they also found that town centres are vital to communities and the economy.

Today (4 February 2021), the Commission has published its report `Anchor, belong, connect: The future of town centres’ which lays out its vision for prosperous town centres and sets out a number of recommendations to achieve this and to ensure that town centres retain a vital role at the heart of their communities.

Dr Sarah Longlands, Chair of the Liverpool Town Centres Commission, and Director of IPPR North said: “The Commission’s report is a first step in trying to understand what the pandemic will mean for the future role of towns across the city region. As we try to see a future beyond Covid-19, we must come to terms with how town centres have changed and the challenges and opportunities that this presents for all of us. We hope that this report contributes to that task.”

Professor Alex Singleton, an expert in Geographic Information Science, said: “It is impossible to ignore those challenges facing town centres or their visible outcomes, and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated ongoing transformations and reconfiguration, such as the significant switch in consumption behaviour to online channels.

“Drawing on insights from our cross faculty Digital research theme, I have been able to feed into discussion new insights about contemporary consumer behaviour alongside our extensive portfolio of research on retail from the University’s Geographic Data Science Lab; leveraging key data and insight from our ESRC Centre for Consumer Data Research.”

The independent Commission comprises of 11 leading figures across the business, public and third sector and is chaired by Dr Sarah Longlands.

The report `Anchor, belong, connect: The future of town centres’ can be found here >>>