One year on – how are our cities evolving?

12th January 2022

Back in November 2020, amidst the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blake Morgan and the Southern Policy Centre launched a report which explored the future of the central south’s city centres and promoted a discussion about how the region’s urban centres are changing.

One year on, as we struggle to emerge from the ongoing pandemic and face a major climate change emergency, Blake Morgan hosted a follow up seminar to discuss what had changed in our city centres over the last 12 months, and whether those changes had been driven by the pandemic as well as the wider social and economic pressures.

Key regional stakeholders from major businesses and organisations in the region were invited to discuss what they thought the future holds and how we can collectively shape that future.

Joining the chair Daniel Curtis, Partner at Blake Morgan, and Simon Eden, Director at the Southern Policy Centre, were panel members Chris Cooper at KnowHow Information; Paul Copping, Fawley Waterside; Cat Mitton; and Philippa Klaschka, Stride Treglown.

Reimagining City Centres

#tomorrowscities: The key themes were capture in this visual image by Drawnalism.

Our panel members covered four key themes of smart cities, urban infrastructure, business and retail, and people and the urban environment.

A lively and positive discussion was had. Key discussion topics centred around the need for purposeful data and how technology enables audience understanding; the absolute need for collaboration in the governance around curating, planning and designing city centres and infrastructure; and the importance of delivering cities with purpose, as places where visitors, residents and business are all catered for.

In particular was the train of thought that those involved in place making were invested in the physical location, and the question of whether we are appropriately skilled to create the kind of city environment we need.

Many participants gave examples of innovative initiatives happening all over the region, which highlighted what a diverse and forward-thinking region the central south is.

Summing up the discussion, Simon Eden said: “This discussion has brought up issues that none of us expected. What it has taught us is that there are lots of things happening in the region in many different places. The next challenge is to work out how we bring all that knowledge together. We look forward to exploring these things further.”

A further write up of the seminar will be available in due course.

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