Revitalising Our City Centres Together - A blog from Louise Brooke-Smith OBE, GBSLEP Board Director for Optimising Assets

Revitalising Our City Centres Together - A blog from Louise Brooke-Smith OBE, GBSLEP Board Director for Optimising Assets

30 Oct 2021

Covid-19 has left no place untouched – from villages, towns to cities the impact of the pandemic has been felt in so many ways by all of us. One thing that has struck me the most is how our buzzing city centres went from being a hive of activity to dormant places overnight. When the first lockdown was put in place, workers were encouraged to stay at home and retailers and hospitality businesses were forced to close. Some managed to adopt a new way of working by taking services online and have thankfully emerged on the other side of Covid-19. Many haven’t – it’s the harsh reality.

In the background though much work has been done to see what can be put in place to create sustainable support for both businesses and communities in our city centres. Amongst it is the Future Business District – The Space Between report by Colmore Business District which GBSLEP has supported. The report is a result of evidence gathered from public and private sector partners on what the future of Birmingham City Centre may look like in a post-pandemic world. Hybrid working is here to stay now so how do we reshape our city centres and attract people back in? How do we make them the most inclusive spaces for everyone to come and enjoy? Big questions that this report asks – and the answers will only emerge if we work together.

At GBSLEP partnership working is our DNA. We have a unique structure of bringing public, private and academic sector leaders together to make joined-up decisions on investments and projects that help drive inclusive economic growth in the region. If we are to level up in a meaningful way, we need to ensure we work together to create better places for ALL of us to enjoy. What is clear from this new report is that ideas alone will not revitalise our city centre but working together to deliver a shared vision will. We all have a role to play, whether it’s funding or offering our knowledge or facilitating open and honest collaborations. By using our expertise, so much can be possible.

Let’s not just ‘talk the talk’ but truly work in partnership to support our people and places. It is upon all of us to ensure our Birmingham is one which connects communities and cultures not just in the city centre but in neighbourhoods too. Covid-19 has been devastating for so many of us but now is the time to rethink, reset and reinstall pride in the places where we work, live and play.

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