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Successful town centres need a mix of attractions and have to be clean, safe and accessible to all forms of transpo...
Successful town centres need a mix of attractions and have to be clean, safe and accessible to all forms of transport according to research published by The Scottish Office.

The study, 'Town Centre Uses in Scotland', makes a number of recommendations, including:

- the undertaking, within all town centres, of detailed regular `health checks'

- further investigation of the success or failure of town centre management in Scotland, and how people and businesses use town centres

- the need for councils to devise policies and programmes that encourage the provision of street activities of all forms

- the extension of schemes to encourage central urban living in vacant property.

Scottish planning minister Calum MacDonald said:

'Our recently published guidance on retailing emphasises the importance of protecting and enhancing existing town centres. The research identifies many of the stresses currently facing town centres and suggests ways forward. It will be very helpful in informing further advice which the government intends to issue early next year on town centre improvements.

'The study concludes that current Scottish Office planning guidance on retail development provides an appropriate and realistic basis for the future planning of town centres. However, the delivery of effective strategies and action plans is the key for town centres to thrive and prosper.'


1. The research was carried out by Professor Leigh Sparks at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, between March and June 1998.

2. Government planning policy on town centres is set out in National Planning Policy Guideline 8 Town Centres and Retailing (NPPG8) which was issued in revised form on 6 October 1998. This indicates that the vitality and viability of town centres should be promoted by encouraging a diversity of uses in the town centre. It includes ensuring accessibility by a range of transport types, creating an attractive and safe environment, and undertaking effective management and promotion of the town centre.

3. To inform this process, Prof Sparks was commissioned to carry out a desk-based study into trends in town centre uses and their contribution to town centre vitality and viability. The study involved a literature review and discussions with experts and practitioners.

4. Copies of the report Town Centre Uses in Scotland, priced£5, are available from The Stationery Office Bookshop, 71 Lothian Road, Edinburgh Tel 0131 228 4181. A summary of the research findings is also available, free of charge, from The Scottish Office, Central Research Unit, Area 2J, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ.

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