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Scottish Government announces plans to regenerate town centres

New measures to revitalise town centres and regenerate local economies have been published by the Scottish Government.

In response to last year’s review of the Town Centre Action Plan, a joint report by the Scottish Government and COSLA outlines actions to better embed a ‘Town Centre First’ approach to meet the needs of communities and tackle climate change.

Actions include:

  • Ensuring town centre regeneration contributes to climate action by reducing emissions, investing in low carbon transport and creating more green spaces.
  • Making town centre services as accessible as possible to help reduce unnecessary car journeys and prevent climate change.
  • Incentivising entrepreneurship by delivering the ambitions set out in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
  • Supporting businesses with town centre premises by exploring a new online sales tax that helps traditional businesses compete with those operating online.
  • Using the planning system to limit out of town development and ensure the non-domestic rates system continues to support our net zero ambitions by providing reliefs for businesses generating more energy from renewable sources.
  • Requiring developers to install and optimise digital connectivity in new town centre housing developments and support community organisations delivering digital skills training. 

Commenting, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth, Tom Arthur said:

“This response has been developed in partnership with local government and recognises how vital town centres are for Scotland’s economic, environmental and social wellbeing.

“The actions in this report provide a framework to meet our ambitions and give communities the freedom and confidence to deliver locally.

“They will help improve our town centres following the pandemic and deliver net zero climate ambitions whilst promoting better planning and delivering enhanced digital capabilities for businesses and residents.

“This approach will also help us deliver the entrepreneurship ambitions set out in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation by creating enterprising communities.

“We all have a role to play in ensuring our towns and town centres deliver the needs of the whole community and these actions will help us deliver that ambition by creating healthier, fairer, greener and more successful towns.”

This joint response builds on work to support town centres during the Covid-19 pandemic and the Scottish Government’s Town Centre First approach, which was developed following the National Review of Town Centres in 2013.

This approach aims to ensure the economic, social and environmental health of town centres is at the heart of decision making.

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