Why Long Term Planning Should Focus on Evolving Community Needs – Nick Conway

11th September 2019

As time passes, neglected town and city centres will inevitably become outdated and cease to meet the needs of the local communities. Although the physical structures of the buildings are designed to stand the test of time, their usage and purpose is bound to change and evolve. This can lead to councils opting for expensive regeneration projects in attempts to revitalise the area and drive economic growth.

Whilst its difficulty to foresee how environments and spaces will be used in the future, projects that focus on the needs of the local community in development stages can often reduce the need for large-scale regeneration in the future. In short: careful and considered planning projects enable a more cost-effective future evolution of the space.

An example of such a project was ITC’s work on The Leake Street Arches. This involved the  conversion of an unused car park and railway arches into cultural hub. The refurbishment not only injected vibrance and life back into the area, but resulted in awards, celebrity visits, and the birth of a local artistic landmark. We’re very proud to have been a part of its creation.

In addition, ITC, working with Runnymede Borough Council, were involved in the restoration of 168 Egham High Street–  a multi-purpose project to refurbish the residential properties and the adjoining Café Gondola. Works involved a two-storey extension, an additional one-storey extension, internal demolitions, and a soft strip-out.

We spoke to John Rice, Director of Commercial Services at Runnymede Borough Council, about the goals for the restoration project and the importance of considering public facilities when creating a commercial space.

He explained:

“Local councils are leaders of the local community, and so they have a responsibility to oversee the appearance and commercial viability of their jurisdiction. It’s important to keep public facilities in the area current and modern so that businesses and the residents’ well-being thrives.

Runnymede Borough Council is currently in the middle of two major town centre regeneration projects and would love to be working on a third.

Councils need to be forward thinking about the needs and opportunities in their area to ensure they remain viable commercial and cultural hubs.” 

In August 2019, ITC also completed extensive retail works at Addlestone One; Surrey’s newest shopping and leisure destination.