Following news last week of Thomas Heatherwick’s proposals for Milton Keynes town centre, what city or town would you revamp and why?
‘You could easily open a discussion for most of Europe’s major towns or cities. I think Scunthorpe could benefit from a refresh to move itself away from the Thatcherite graffiti association it had, made popular by Nigel Rees. There is a hidden beauty within Scunthorpe.’
Robbie Laughton, Creative director, Wolff Olins
‘I want to do Swindon. Sometime capital of the GWR and Brunel, the railway created a model new town of fine stone buildings and proud engineers with a keen sense of purpose and place. Today, with the works and engineers gone, replaced by a low-rent architecture, the town has a faux sense of modernity – heartless and transient. To rediscover that sense of urban pride and identity in a modern context requires more than a few designer benches and lamp posts. I would rather be Swindon’s mayor than its creative director.
Rodney Fitch, Chairman, Rodney Fitch & Co
‘Crawley, Luton, Dover? It’s a tough choice. While they fall short of official city status currently (Luton and Dover are in the process of bidding for city status), as gateways supporting key airports or ports, they are the first impression of the UK that we give a multitude of foreign visitors. The shame of it. I’d revamp them all. Were William the Conqueror to return today and choose one of the above as a landing point, he might think twice about staying.’
Tim Greenhill, Managing director, Basten Greenhill
‘Britain’s major cities have either been done, or are being revamped right now and the market towns should be next. Leicester is a prime example. It’s got a huge outdoor market, a shopping centre and a main shopping drag, but they need to be linked by better signage and parking facilities, together with a well co-ordinated town centre management approach.’
Ken Greig, Director, Greig & Stephenson
‘Top-down manufactured “big plans” just add to the mess of bomb damaged cities – and are at odds with organic and inclusive approaches. I’d have a look at cities still recovering from the blitz. Coventry, Hull and Liverpool still have a long way to go to keep up with the likes of Leeds, Newcastle and Bristol.’
Tim Fendley, Freelance consultant
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