Liverpool Aerial October 2019
Liverpool city centre and other regional town centres are the focus of the commission

Liverpool launches town centres commission

Chloé Vaughan

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, has set up an independent commission aimed at creating a vision for 17 town centres to ensure their “prosperous and sustainable long-term future”.

The Town Centres Commission is chaired by Sarah Longlands, director at think-tank IPPR North and comprises 12 other members from across the public and private sectors.

It will focus on producing a report exploring topics such as, how town centres can support a sense of place and belonging across Liverpool City Region; how policy decisions on planning, environment and infrastructure can best support town centres; how town centres can operate as a hub for business and society, and how town centres can manage change to remain sustainable in the long-term .

The report will also set out specific recommendations for 17 town centres: Liverpool City Centre; Widnes; Runcorn; Halton Lea; Huyton; Kirkby; Prescot; Southport; Bootle; St Helens; Earlestown; Birkenhead; Liscard; Heswall; Moreton; New Brighton, and West Kirby. The report is expected to be published in September.

The commission met initially on 27 February and will meet on a broadly monthly basis between now until September.

Rotheram said in a statement: “There has been a renewed focus on towns following December’s general election, and with good reason. Our economy, both regionally and nationally, will not thrive unless success is shared between our cities and our towns. This is something I have been acutely aware of.

“We are bringing together experts from a range of sectors to help us find sustainable solutions to the challenges we face. I want this commission to help us safeguard the future of our town centres to ensure they remain at the heart of our communities for generations to come.”

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has commissioned IPPR North to act as a secretariat for the commission, and will undertake research, analysis, stakeholder interviews and community engagement as part of its role.

Sarah Longlands said: “For too long, town centres have been on the edge of the debate about the North’s economy, now is the time to listen to our communities and businesses and work with them to build a better future in the places that matter to them.”

The commission’s other members, pictured below, are:

  • Alex Singleton, professor of Geographic Information Science at the University of Liverpool
  • Bronwen Rapley, chief executive of Onward Homes
  • Claire McColgan, director of Culture Liverpool
  • Cllr Pam Thomas from Liverpool City Council
  • Dan Davies, chief executive of Rockpoint Leisure
  • John Csizmadia, relationship director of Lloyds Banking Group
  • Kim Cooper, senior town planner at Arup
  • Laura Pye, director of National Museums Liverpool
  • Liam Kelly, chief executive at Make CIC
  • Phil McCabe, development manager for Merseyside, West Cheshire and Wigan at the Federation of Small Businesses
  • Sarah Taylor, executive director of Sefton Council
  • Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change



The commission includes representatives from across the public and private sector

Your Comments

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Great idea hope it’s not to late as I see a complete fall in what was a lovely place to visit shops closing and entertainment moving out of town awkward for elderly and disabled people

By Peter Williams

This misses out Waterloo and Crosby! The list for the Wirral is very comprehensive; and Waterloo alone is much bigger than Earlestown! What’s more Waterloo has huge potential to help fulfil the City Region’s aspirations for culture with immense untapped potential. Sefton Council, get your act together, and develop a long-term vision for all the towns and townships of Sefton!

By Liverpolitan

Hopefully this group will incorporate the outcome of the Forgotten Spaces competition currently taking place, and will not turn out to be just another talking shop for uncosted, unrealistic pipe dreams.

By Deep Thinker

This presents a great opportunity to genuinely place people at the heart of town centres by prioritising active travel and designing out antisocial car-centric spaces. If you want to encourage people to go to these high streets, then make the journeys to/from and movement around the public realm more pleasant for all by discouraging car use.

By Active Travel Trev