The team behind Altrincham Forward, an important part of the Trafford town’s renaissance, has formed a consultancy to help revitalise other town centres around the UK.
Matt Colledge, Penny Bell, and Sonia Cubrilo helped to develop the model for Altrincham in 2011 and have now formed IntoPlaces to roll out similar models and regeneration methods across the country.
IntoPlaces aims to move away from traditional approaches which it claims “lack the ownership and backing of key stakeholders as well as the town’s wider business and residential communities”.
It aims to share models which the team developed to encourage engagement with these sectors, and also stimulate the property sector and support businesses by offering solutions based on first-hand experiences.
IntoPlaces is part of the High Street Task Force panel, which is a team of experts providing advice and guidance to other towns looking for revitalisation. The HSTF is ran by the Institute of Place Management from Manchester Metropolitan University, on behalf of the Government; this will last for four years.
The company is also working with Bacup town centre to aid its regeneration. It aims to expand further in the coming months and support councils and others directly to make it a full-time operation.
Matt Colledge, former leader of Trafford Council, director at Lexington Communications, and founder of the public-private sector organisation Altrincham Forward, said: “We have been asked so many times how we regenerated Altrincham, it seemed a logical extension to offer a service that provides this much needed support, at a time when high street renewal is high on the agenda.
“For towns to recapture their uniqueness and be places of experience and difference, a collective vision needs to be created, engaging everyone. This is one of the many services that we offer, based on our experiences in successfully regenerating town centres.”
Penny Bell, who worked on the operational delivery of Altrincham Forward, said: “We are also able to take that shared vision and turn it into a tangible strategy with key actions taken forward by many partners. For example, our unique model of bringing landlords together is an incredibly powerful tool to drive up occupancy of vacant property, encourage new businesses and improve the visitor experience.”
Sonia Cubrilo, who was responsible for developing partnerships and stakeholder engagement including community groups and young people, said: “We have taken the same journey and faced the challenges that town centres continue to battle with, but without creating wider local ownership and engagement, towns will struggle to be successful going forward. This is where we can provide our expertise to help organisations.”