Effective place leadership is critical to the success of town and city centres in the future. The Institute offers support for this.

The December 2018 report from the Minister for the High Street's Expert Panel called for 'inspirational leadership' and the development of 'high street champions' with leadership qualities. The more recent House of Commons Committee report on the High Street and Town Centres in 2030 states that 'strong local leadership' is required to drive town centre transformation.

How do you develop effective place leadership?

Research by the Institute has found that place leadership needs to be conceptualised as a source of energy and the capacity to bring about change in a collaborative fashion. Sometimes it may be more concentrated in one organisation (like a local authority) or one partnership, but it is never wholly contained in one structure. Place leadership is always diffused across different people, and different organisations (High Street 2030: Achieving Change 2018).

Local leader briefing

If you are looking at the future of your town centres and developing the necessary place leadership capacity, the first step may be a briefing from one of our experts to a small group of local leaders. The suggested format of the one day visit is:

  • Guided tour of town centre for expert by those with knowledge of local position
  • Briefing by expert to group of local leaders on issues impacting town centres, key trends and data, and options for enhancing vitality and viability
  • Discussion session on options and interventions
  • Briefing on where to access further research and support

The programme can be adapted to meet local needs, for places of different scales. This day provides local leaders with some of the knowledge necessary for developing a response to the challenge facing one town or city centre or a collection of centres (such as neighbourhoods, or different towns within a region).

The Leadership Briefing is delivered by Institute of Place Management staff who are each directly involved in our town and city centre research programmes and who are experienced in working with town and city centre stakeholders.

Graham Galpin is a Fellow of the Institute who has developed and delivered major economic development programmes for more than 20 years. He was Ashford Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Town Centres for 7 years until May 2019. Ashford is regularly cited in the media as an outstanding example of town centre “Place Changing”. As a result, the Minister for Town Centres invited Graham to join Sir John Timpson’s Expert Panel to review the high street. Their report in December 2018 proposed The Future High Street Fund and the High Street Taskforce. Graham is a regular speaker on place management and leadership.

Simon Quin is Co-Chair of the Institute and a Visiting Professor at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has worked with town centres for over 25 years, led IPM's work with towns through various research projects, was Chief Executive of ATCM from 2004-2010, Town Centre Manager in Romford then Reading, and has served on the Boards of the International Downtown Association and Town Centre Management Europe. Simon leads IPM's Vital and Viable Town Centres programme.

Dr Steve Millington is a Director of Place Making at the Institute and Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University. He was co-investigator on the High Street UK 2020 and the Bringing Big Data to Small Users research programmes, and has worked extensively with individual town and city centres. Steve lead's IPM's Vital and Viable Neighbourhods programme.

Professor Cathy Parker is Co-Chair of the Institute and Professor of Retail and Marketing Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University. She was the lead investigator on High Street UK 2020 and lead researcher on Bringing Big Data to Small Users project. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Place Management and Development, a recognised authority on retail in town and city centres and is widely published.

If you wish to discuss a possible Leadership Briefing, please email Simon Quin

We also offer other support for developing effective place leadership. Find our more about the Vitality and Viability Programme or studying for a post-graduate qualification in Place Management and Leadership.