Building stronger town centres during the post-pandemic recovery is vital to a delivering a greener and healthier Scotland

by Phil Prentice, Chief Officer, Scotland’s Towns Partnership

There can be no doubt that a post-Covid Scotland needs to be greener, fairer and healthier.

There should also be no doubt that stronger town centres have a critical part to play in a stronger, sustainable future for all.

If there is a positive which can be taken from the heartbreaking disruption caused by the precent coronavirus pandemic, it is undoubtedly the spirit of localism that we have seen across Scotland - the greater appreciation of what’s on our doorstep, along with the people and businesses who are at the heart of our communities.

The power of this to be a positive force for our future should not be underestimated.

The strength of support that the team here at Scotland’s Towns Partnership is seeing for the Scotland Loves Local campaign – urging everyone to think local first and safety first to help support the country’s economic recovery from Covid-19 – stands testament to the value people place on the importance of local businesses.

Our message to them is to be there for those who have been there for you during this time. But, while critically important, this is not just a rallying cry for the now.

It’s one that I hope will be a catalyst for change – an investment in all our futures.

I had the pleasure of being part of the panel at The Herald’s Future Of Our High Streets event, which highlighted the real potential that exists for our town centres and the fact that if we harness the social, environmental and economic renaissance being seen in our towns ambitiously enough, it could provide some of the answers to shape a more attractive future.

We need to embrace less commuting, the more homeworking, growth in active travel, renewed citizenship, a reconnection with green space, and heritage that we are seeing. 

These all create an opportunity to build better lives with localism at their core. Our reduced carbon footprint should be consolidated and maintained, and so should building more resilience into food security and local supply chains, along with a well-connected transport system.

Meanwhile, the drive to develop more digital solutions should continue at pace, helping reduce peripherality, fuel innovation, improve productivity and 
contribute towards net zero.

All of this, along with low-carbon affordable housing and community wealth building, should contribute towards a fairer society, while some provocation is needed to modernise our tax system to create a more conducive investment environment which should put vested communities before extractive corporates. 

A great deal of effort and enthusiasm is going into building for the future, including a national review into our town centres, led by Professor Leigh Sparks of Stirling University. 
This needs to be underpinned by communities, businesses and others  creating compelling plans together. We can all help take the vital first steps on that journey – and help our high streets through the immediate 
consequences of coronavirus – by thinking local first.

For more information about the Scotland Loves Local campaign – or to get involved – go to or follow #ScotlandLovesLocal on social media.

  • This article was brought to you as commercial content as part of our Scotland Loves Local campaign with partner Scotland's Towns Partnership