A company called the Communication Group is inviting councillors to come along, at a cost of £675, to a conference in March on the subject Cities:The Secret of a Winning Destination. I understand they are thinking not just, of even primarily, of a city in terms of a holiday destination but more as a place to invest, for instance, a shopping centre or a sports club.
Aside from the cost (to you) of attending, regular readers will know I am a sceptic as to what these conferences achieve. At least with this one the subject is valid enough. However those wanting guidance on how to make our cities more attractive to investors but who would rather not pay £675 to go to this conference will find there are umpteen think tanks that have produced reports on the subject available to download for free. Often they seem to suggest looking at Vancouver. There is Success and the City from Policy Exchange (not the one that was rude about Liverpool.) It mentioning, for example, the low crime rate in Vancouver. It adds that:"Much like Manhattan, Amsterdam or central Paris, Vancouver almost forces you to walk."
But we don’t need to go to Vancouver to know that reducing crime and
encouraging walking are good ideas. A lot of this material offers
plenty of concepts and examples but is weak when it comes to tangible
action that could usefully be undertaken as a result.
The Communications Group themselves have already issued a report
The Power of Destinations which included the interesting thought that
investors were finding it harder to choose location on the "hard
factors" (staff costs, regulation, etc), as there was little to choose,
and so the "soft factors" (such as architecture and culture) have
become relatively more important. I do think it’s time planners had
more regard for the design of buildings. Approving hideous modernist,
brutalist, soulless structures has a cumulative effect of making a city
an undesirable place to live. This is not a path to wealth creation in
the long term. Seeking regeneration schemes that remove some of the
worst 1960s eyesores and replacing them with something the Prince of
Wales would approve offers a better prospect.