Delivering Better Places in Scotland

It is well understood that attractive, well-designed towns and cities, lively neighbourhoods and well-connected streets create an environment in which people prefer to live, work and relax and in which businesses are more likely to invest. But what needs to be done to create such places, especially when they involve co-operation between the public and private sectors?

To find out, this research investigated eight case study projects across Europe, each of which involved significant real estate development in creating a ‘new’ place:

  • Adamstown, Dublin, Ireland
  • Allerton Bywater, Leeds, England
  • Castlefield (Britannia Basin), Manchester, England
  • Hammarby-Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden
  • IJburg, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Newhall, Harlow, England
  • Upton, Northampton, England
  • Vauban, Freiburg, Germany

Analysis of these case studies showed that creating better places requires determined leadership in place promotion. In rare cases, place leadership comes wholly from the private sector. But generally, the public sector must provide the necessary place leadership in order both to attract interest from the private sector and transform its thinking and products. Effective leadership needs to be matched by the capacity to deliver change on the ground, normally involving a committed delivery organisation.

Really effective delivery organisations are able to control the spatial development framework, ensure regulatory approvals, exercise ownership power, enable advance infrastructure to be provided by attracting investment funding and secure design quality through procurement strategies. To a greater or lesser extent, these actions are as much about making markets as making places – since over time, successful places become self-sustaining and attractive in market terms.


The report was launched at a conference organised by the Scottish Government in Edinburgh in January 2011, reported in SCR Learning Point 86 (PDF). Download David Adams' conference presentation (PDF).


Reviews of this research include those by the European Urban Knowledge Network and Nick Wright Planning