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Hundreds have their say on how to get more people living in Scotland’s town centres

More than 200 people have taken part in a series of events to inspire and influence the drive to have more people living in Scotland’s town and city centres.

The Town Centre Living and Investment Roadshow featured five events, visiting four places with representatives of councils, community organisations, improvement districts, architects, town planners and housing associations among those taking part.

They have been held as communities across the country awaken to the benefits of having more people living - as well as working - in the heart of communities.

It is a move credited with adding vibrancy and footfall to towns, whether by bringing disused sites back to life, creating a new generation of sustainable homes above shops and other buildings or on other sites.

The roadshow - delivered collaboratively by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, Scottish Futures Trust, Architecture and Design Scotland and the Scottish Land Commission - showcased more than 25 exemplar town centre living projects and case studies from across the country.

Key themes and best practices shared during the discussions will be shared with the joint CoSLA and Ministerial National Towns Forum in April.

Kimberley Guthrie, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said: “Getting out and about has been an important reminder as to how town centre living can be a major catalyst for positive change.

“As we develop work to help encourage more people to live in our town and city centres, this series has given us the chance to explore both opportunities and complexities surrounding projects.

“Bringing together colleagues from across the public, private and third sectors has been invigorating. We have learned so much to help inform our next steps.”

A total of 220 people - including representatives of 26 local authorities, nine enterprise agencies and the Scottish Government - have taken part in the events.

The roadshow visited Perth, Paisley, Inverness, Falkirk, with a further session being held online.

It covered topics including repurposing empty assets, private sector investment, how to create the best conditions to live in town centres and how rural and island communities can embrace opportunities.

Mhairi Donaghy, Associate Director at Scottish Futures Trust, described discussions during the roadshow as “inspirational”.

She added: “Town centre living is a huge part of the future for our town and city centres, creating the power to catalyse other developments in communities.

“Housing brings people and people bring spend, activity and resilience, animation, safety and security for places. The impact that delivers is incredibly positive.”

In each of the places visited, delegates took part in walking tours to look at regeneration work and how town centre living has - or will - play a part in that.

Heather Claridge, Director of Design at Architecture and Design Scotland, said: “Town centre living is so important not just to how we live now, but how we will live in the future.

“We need to have more people living in our town centres to create vibrant environments, but also to live in a more compact and sustainable way.”

Comments from delegates at the events included: “The power of good and early cross-sectoral collaboration provides really mindful and meaningful developments.”

David Stewart, the Scottish Land Commission’s Policy and Practice Lead, said: “This roadshow has been absolutely fantastic.

“A great variety of people have come together to share ideas, experiences and so much positivity about the potential of town centre living.”

Full findings from the roadshow will be shared after they have been analysed and shared with CoSLA and the Scottish Government.