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Free Market Curators

Small Town Life

This is our study of the market places of small towns. We have observed what they are, and we see what they could be. The public realm – the market places, streets and squares – is key to the civic and social lives of these towns but is undermined by poor planning and fragmented decisions.

We live in, and love these towns and want to see them thrive. Here is what we think needs to change to allow this to happen:

  • People in towns know well the particular problems of their towns and are capable of proposing solutions. They need to be consulted.
  • Design is key to the future of our towns but is not valued. Architects must be more active in the design of the public spaces of towns.
  • There is enough money to go around, but it is not managed effectively. Funding systems must change to allow long term strategies to be implemented.
  • Vacancy can be challenged by financially incentivising living and trading in towns.
  • We need to change how decisions are made regarding towns, we need to connect the dots between the agencies, policy makers and stakeholders engaged in towns.
  • We need clearer connections between small incremental changes and long term strategy.
  • Towns need schools - in the middle of town.
  • Towns need shops, markets and supermarkets - in the middle of town.
  • Towns need places for their elderly to live - in the middle of town.
  • Towns need people: people of all ages who believe in towns and want to take part in towns and live in them.
  • Towns need cars, but not above the needs of people.
  • Towns need their market places to function again as places to trade and congregate.

The market place can once again become the centre of commercial, cultural and social exchange in towns, but this will not happen unless we change how we act. This is not a conclusion, it is the start of a debate that we hope transforms policy and mindsets, and strengthens these towns into the future.

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