Repopulating the downtown areas of cities has become a high priority for planners. A key question is the city centre for whom? The promotion of the city centre as a tourist destination has created new demand for diverse forms of accommodation - hotels, serviced apartments, AirBnB - creating a large but peripatetic population. Gentrification has attracted some higher income groups, brought new investment capital to repurpose property and strengthened local tax bases. The recent expansion of student residences has added another cohort. But other groups have been displaced or priced out. Finding new balances between these competing interests is critical to a more sustainable, inclusive city centre. Mixed housing, new service provision for a wider age cohort and family structures are needed to make the city centre itself a 15 minute neighbourhood.
Students v Millenials
Across university cities, new compact student residences in the city centre in repurposed property or infills have created a new population in the city centre. Providing for such 'temporary' residents is in tension with a desire to cater for Millennials built around a sense of place and diversity of activities that will make them longer term residents of the urban core.
15 minute downtown
The 15 minute neighbourhood has gained traction as a planning concept that emphasises local services and facilities; a reversal of the tendency towards centralisation and agglomeration. This challenges the city centre's role. The creation of 15 minute communities in the city centre - alongside 30 and 60 minute services - is critical to the retention and growth of city centre populations.
Development and investment strategies adopted in many cities have emphasised the importance of attracting tourists as a source of income and a key element of the 'footfall' necessary for leisure and retail. Lessons from those cities where such strategies have been 'too successful' help to show how a more sustainable balance in city centre users is needed.
about how city centres are being repopulated, and the tensions which are beign created between the need to meet the desires of tourists and visitors, and the aspirations and requirements of other residents. Click on titles for access.
Orr, Stewart, Jackson and White (2023) Cities 133, 104124
This paper explores the inter-connections between property use diversity, change of use, and the adaptive capacity within urban retailing systems. The retailing centres of five UK case study cities, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Liverpool, and Nottingham, are examined over a twenty-year period