Footfall is critical to town centres and while transport authorities have always had to grapple with crowded roads, bus operators and train delays, the advent of a revolution in transport technology and growing need for energy efficiency and clean air means that both the challenges and opportunities to differentiate a town's offering are greater than ever before.
While technology provides a threat to town centres through online shopping, transport technology and smart mobility will make them more accessible to everyone. Ride sharing and electric scooters are already challenging the status quo provided by public transport and making commuting cheaper in progressive towns around the world. Driverless vehicles and even flying taxis are also looming on the horizon and this will lead to a drastic reconfiguration of the traditional town centre.
The pressure on towns and cities to reduce emissions is giving rise to clean air policies and ultra-low emission zones for vehicles. While the penalties incurred by drivers of fossil fuel vehicles could discourage town centre visitors, the opposite may be the case in the longer term with cleaner, greener towns becoming more attractive. Furthermore, with ride sharing on the rise and fewer vehicles parking in town centres there will be opportunities for car parks to be redeveloped into new attractive spaces.
"Transport can no longer be considered a secondary concern when it comes to the development of prosperous town centres. The revolution in transport technologies, the options and flexibility being offered to commuters, visitors and goods deliverers and the clean air agenda means that there is great opportunity to harness transportation to differentiate town centres. A firm understanding of the legal environment in such a rapidly evolving transport sector is vital though if towns are to capitalise." Jonathan Moss, Head of Transport.
DWF's public sector team in partnership with Local Government Chronicle (LGC), conducted a roundtable discussion to establish how retailers, institutional investors and local government can come together to regenerate town centres for the 21st century. Download your copy of our report here >