Future of the City Centre

Lead Research Organisation: Northumbria University
Department Name: Fac of Engineering and Environment


This project will establish an international research network exploring the Future of the City Centre, through a partnership between Northumbria University; University of Strathclyde; University of Newcastle, Australia; University of Paraiba, Brazil; and the University of South Africa. The research network will examine how city centres are being transformed by a number of internal, external and contextual factors and the implications of these changes for the Future of the City Centre. The theoretical perspectives will involve past, present and future. Emphasis will be visions for the post-industrial, post-commercial and post-retail city. This theme and the related sub-topics will enable the development of future city models and will help to contextualise urban change. Provision for creative industries, cultural events and different forms of entertainment may offer vitality, together with visitors and responsible tourism. City authorities are starting to realise that structural changes are happening in city centres, and are responding by establishing core groups of officers to consider these issues. This proposal will provide a distinct focus on innovation for the Future of the City Centre. It will also enable academic research to inform new policies, from an inter-disciplinary perspective incorporating views from different cities. The research network is proposed at a time when governments, communities, business, artists, entertainers, historians, sociologists and others, are re-evaluating their interactions with cities.

The key aim of this research network is to explore the Future of the City Centre, informed by international perspectives of expert knowledge from a range of disciplines in each locality. Invited speakers will represent education, local government, non-government organisations, business and community groups.

There will be four symposiums over 24 months. They will take place in four different continents and establish a view from developed and developing countries. While individual cities cannot represent continents or even countries, they can be indicative of responses from different geographies, governance systems, cultures, heritage and populations. The UK Government Office for Science City Futures Project established Newcastle upon Tyne as pilot city. According to the United Nations, Joao Pessoa in Brazil is the second greenest city in the world. Newcastle, Australia, has established a leading smart city approach, as part of its future. Mogale City in South Africa has created an integrated development plan, as a statement of independence from Pretoria. The universities and academics chosen from the cities for this proposal are each offering distinctive perspectives. Professor Giddings promotes the arts, architecture, and urban design in the culture of communities; Professor Silva researches sustainable urbanism; Dr Jefferies investigates public and private partnerships; and Professor Rwelamila practices city management systems. In addition Dr Rogerson will offer data and methodologies from the University of Strathclyde Institute of Future Cities. Each symposium will include selected speakers who will be asked to prepare position papers to establish the context for debates on the Future of the City Centre. Speakers will represent academia, local government, non-government organisations, businesses and communities. The outcome will be possible scenarios that may be formed into the inter-disciplinary policies. It is proposed that 20 invitees will attend each symposium over a two-day period, together with open access for all interested parties. In addition to world-wide availability of the project data through the website, publications and other outputs, participants will work with their local policy makers to develop novel scenarios. The focus on exploring a range of perspectives during an era of fundamental change will assist cities around the world to re-assess their strategies.

Planned Impact

The key beneficiaries of this research will be researchers, practitioners, policy makers and communities, in academia, industry, government, public institutions and society. The planned research will examine how cities are being transformed by a number of internal, external and contextual factors and the implications of these changes for the Future of the City Centre. Both individuals and groups will benefit from this research. A rich, international network will be established to explore these important issues. The research will inform education providers, eg universities, colleges, research organisations and schools. It will be of benefit to practitioners in environmental, social and economic domains, including: designers in creative industries, urban managers, carers, health professionals, entrepreneurs and business managers. Policy makers such as those in local, regional national and international contexts; including: governments, EU and the UN, will be able to apply the research. Communities are increasingly being required to propose their own scenarios and defend their own positions. The outputs from the network will assist community groups in formulating their proposals for innovative uses of city space. Moreover, this research will encourage cross-national, cross-cultural and cross-discipline approaches.

The impact is primarily achieved through the quality of the research proposed by the high calibre of the proposed international institutions engaged in the network. The impact of the research will be managed and disseminated through a range of national and international channels. They include regional networks of researchers and practitioners, consequent continuing professional development (CPD) workshops, and symposium events will be open to the public. Other channels will include public bodies and agencies, including those represented by the invited network of participants who will provide an effective context for the dissemination of the research findings; as well as established and relevant practice conferences, professional journals and community blogs. International channels will include the research project website, international academic journals and conferences, and other established organisations linked with the network, such as - The Association of Critical Heritage Studies; Royal Geographical Society; Urban Design Group; CIB's Working Commissions in Architectural Design and Management, and Spatial Planning and Infrastructure Development; City Futures Groups in Newcastle (UK), Sydney and Sao Paulo; South African City Futures at the African Centre for Cities; Future of Cities at GOV.UK; and the European Urban Research Association. The project's visibility will commence immediately after funding has been secured, as the dedicated project website will be built at this stage. Information on the proposed symposiums will be disseminated to the invited network participants, for them to distribute to an even wider international audience. More long-term impact will be managed via the development of an exploitation plan throughout the proposed research, developing opportunities with each of the universities' commercialisation departments. The host universities have a strong reputation in international research. Moreover, the institutions are excellent providers of dedicated training, CPD activities, and in capacity building support for commercial, public and third sector organisations. The potential impact of the proposed research therefore extends well beyond built environmental context, to include social, economic, cultural and quality of life contexts. In summary, the scope of exploitation channels is very broad, ranging from academia through to SMEs, public sector and community organisations. Outputs are planned in a variety of formats that allow us to match dissemination methods to potential beneficiaries.


10 25 50
Description All the symposia have now been completed. Issues have been identified in all four cities regarding city image, public realm, social groups, culture, heritage, governance, the role of universities, local economy and movement.
Exploitation Route All five universities are taking forward the findings, as are the city authorities. For wider dissemination, a monograph of cities and issues is being prepared. There are three journal papers in process for the academic audience, and three conference papers are planned for discussion with the academic community
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Environment

URL http://www.futurecitycentre.com
Description There was a meeting with a Parliamentary Committee on 19 November 2018
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services