Barrhead has been flagged up as a prime example of how to revitalise a community following its £100 million regeneration.

The East Renfrewshire town's long-term strategy rejuvenated and transformed the previously run down town centre.

It is now well-served with amenities, such as a new library and swimming pool complex, plus other services and improved retail opportunities making it a better place to live and do business, the first World Towns Leadership Summit in Edinburgh has heard.

Communities around Scotland are to be urged to get together to access millions of pounds of government cash to help spruce up high streets and cities and towns up and down the country.

Phil Prentice, chief officer at event host, the Scottish Towns Partnership (STP), said: “Many of our towns need investment to help breathe new life into the communities that still live there, but it’s not about throwing vast sums at them.

“Bringing public health organisations, business people as well the property sector to the table will start to unlock the perceived challenges we face.

“By starting to take on the easy parts, then the harder bits will start to fall into place. “

Meanwhile, a blueprint being drawn up in Edinburgh is expected to be adopted by the United Nations as a template for planning future cities and towns around the world.

The summit which began yesterday will witness the signing of the inaugural World Towns Agreement, a charter creating the draft for the regeneration of towns and urban centres across the globe.

It also heard that communities around Scotland are to be urged to get together to access millions of pounds of government cash to help spruce up high streets and cities and towns up and down the country.

Hundreds of specialists in social justice, town planning and architecture are here for two days to hear eminent speakers from South Africa, Denmark, Canada and the USA as well as Scotland at the event where Angela Constance, Scottish Secretary for Communities, Social Justice and Equalities called on communities to be bold when bidding to revamp their surroundings.

It is understood the UN Habitat programme is to adopt the agreement, laying down the “Scottish” charter in new and existing towns cities and also smaller communities.

Ms Constance said in her keynote speech: “This agreement is a vital step in encouraging all of us here today to response to our own challenges in our towns and urban neighbourhoods.

“My commitment to you today is that the Scottish Government will indeed fully consider all the principles that you set out in the agreement.

“We are a nation that continues to learn and adapt and that will help us become a fairer and stronger country.”

Professor Leigh Sparks, of Stirling University, chair of host the Scottish Towns Partnership, said better transport between towns, cities and villages in Scotland is essential and communities should make the most of their neighbours.

He told the summit: “One of our failures in the way we have looked at towns is we tend to look at them in isolation.

“We’ve got to stop looking at individual places and try to think to solve the problem in one place with all of this network connected.”

Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, from South Africa, and Professor Tina Saaby, Copenhagen’s City Architect, were joined by Michael Smith from the US, chairman of the International Downtown Association, and Michael Shuman, founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local living Economies as the summit’s key note speakers.

Mr Smith said: “These thought leaders will come together and create a charter, a roadmap for our work.

“This framework will support our work in towns and urban centres large and small.”

Source: Herald Scotland

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