The way in which cities and towns are run could improve thanks to a new Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University dedicated to making places better to live and work in.
The Institute of Place Management (IPM) is being launched on September 1 by the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) and Manchester Metropolitan University Business School (MMUBS) to professionalise the role of people responsible for the planning, economic development, regeneration and day-to-day management of towns and cities.
IPM will launch in the UK first with an international launch in March 2008 which will see towns and cities as far as the US, Asia and Australia benefit.
IPM has been formed because of concern that following years of unchecked commercialisation of public spaces and the emergence of 'clone towns', managers need more support to ensure the needs of local residents, workers and businesses are met.
Cities must evolve
Cathy Parker, a retail marketing expert at MMUBS and development director of the new institute said: "History tells us that places that pass the test of time evolve to meet the changing needs of those who use them. It is becoming increasingly important to manage this evolution in order to benefit these users."
Parker who is also visiting professor of retail and place management at the University of Arts in London, says: "So many people are involved in making places better but it is only now that we are starting to develop theory and collect best practice examples to support them."
Place management has become an established concept in Europe over the last 20 years, but despite its growth there is very little structured support in terms of professional and personal development for those involved.
Simon Quin, CEO of the Association of Town Centre Managers, said: "Place managers have to draw from a variety of disciplines including social entrepreneurship, marketing, regeneration, economic development, planning & design and tourism & leisure. In addition, a place manager also needs an understanding of health, education, retailing, crime & security and even sociology.
Consequently we feel that it is time the unique and important function of place management needs the support of its own professional institute."
MMUBS has been increasingly concerned by the 'Ghost Town Britain' effect following its role as academic advisor to the All Party Small Shops Group report High Street Britain 2015, predicting a gloomy future for towns and cities without support for local shops.
The business school has responded to this by supporting IPM accredited qualifications including a MA in Urban Regeneration, the Introductory Diploma in Place Management and the first ever Masters degree in Place Management to ensure those in more strategic positions of authority can help keep high streets vibrant.
The world's first journal of place management will also be based in Manchester.
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