The goal of the ESPON on the Road Programme was to showcase the existing research output of ESPON at a local level across the EU. Each of the nineteen ESPON national partners chose a particular topic of ESPON research to highlight in their country.
As the UK's ESPON partner, the RTPI have chosen to focus on ESPON research about how planning can help small and medium-sized towns cope with future challenges and develop economic resilience within their locality. Two briefings were produced:
The RTPI organised a seminar on Securing economic resilience outside the UK's main citiesin Colwyn Bay, North Wales, on 17 September 2014, including the following programme:
10:45 – RTPI: Overview of latest research outputs discussing some of the factors and policy initiatives that can ensure economic resilience in small and medium sized towns
11:00 – Professor Cliff Hague: Regional development messages for Wales from Europe
11:40 – Alan Southall - Regeneration Wales: Latest overview of the regeneration industry in Wales
13:20 – Professor Rob Atkinson and Doctor Ian Smith (UWE): Review of latest economic and analytical trends for small and medium towns and associated policy implications
14:00 – Rob Dix - Head of Business and Enterprise, Conwy Borough Council: Bay Life – turning a town around, positive outcomes and lessons learnt from Colwyn Bay's regeneration
14:40 –Peter James – Welsh Government: Initiatives for helping communities deliver economic success
The presentations in Colwyn Bay explained how spatial policies at a regional level can have a hugely important role to play in facilitating economic success in localities, and that there are measures that can be adopted to support regional economic resilience. Learning from European examples, the development of specialised economies, in combination with spatial focus and prioritisation, can help develop some key attributes that can contribute to greater economic resilience, such as: highly skilled and specialised labour force, the development of local economic specialisms, better connectivity, amongst many others.
Regeneration can also be a key policy to helping achieve some of the above attributes, as it enables areas to recalibrate the sector-focus of their economies, improve connectivity and enhance specialisation. The excellent regeneration works carried out in Colwyn Bay, as well as along the towns of the North Wales Coast more generally, were highlighted as examples of what successful regeneration policies can look like in small and medium sized towns.
For more information about the ESPON on the Road Programme, visit the website here, or the Facebook page here. Follow on Twitter: @ESPONontheRoad