Smyth calls for culture-led regeneration of town centres

South Scotland list MSP Colin Smyth has highlighted the key role a culture-led approach can play in regenerating high streets, calling on the Scottish Government to provide more support for town centre regeneration.

Wigtown becoming Scotland’s National Book Town has been hailed a successful example of culture-led regeneration
Wigtown becoming Scotland’s National Book Town has been hailed a successful example of culture-led regeneration

With more and more big retailers closing shops, Mr Smyth believes that the Scottish Government should adopt a town centre-first rule when funding arts and culture facilities to encourage councils and organisations to locate new developments where they will bring more people into the high street.

He said: “From Wigtown becoming Scotland’s National Book Town to the Stove Network in Dumfries, which led to the development of the Midsteeple Quarter, there are many good examples of culture-led regeneration across Dumfries and Galloway.

“However, given the big crisis that our town centres face we need to redouble our efforts by increasing the support that we give to culture-led community-driven regeneration.

“We need a town centre-first approach not just in planning, but in funding new cultural facilities in our towns.

“The pandemic and the subsequent restrictions and lockdowns have been terrible for retail and we’ve seen so many shops in our town centres closing.

“This has resulted in empty properties and obviously the knock on affect is that footfall in our town centres has dropped significantly.

“However, there were big problems before the Covid pandemic and we now need urgent action to stop further decline.

“Town centres should be the heart of our communities but this won’t happen without more support.”