Key Takeaways from the ATCM Summer School

Recently, our Growth and Performance Manager Ben Hammond and Tom Tawell our Account Director, attended the ATCM Summer School in Glasgow. The event focussed on Innovation in Town and City Climate Action. Here are their top takeaways from the event:

With a correlation between climate change impact and increasing flood risks, some high streets are experiencing flooding which will push them beyond the point of recovery. As flooding increases in areas that have rarely, if ever, experienced it before, more high streets are at risk of turning into damp ghost towns as they become inviable as places for businesses to invest and open up shop.

The future infrastructure of towns and cities must be developed with a strong emphasis on climate impact and sustainable initiatives. By integrating these considerations, cities can significantly reduce the amount of embodied carbon generated. This approach ensures that as urban areas continue to grow and evolve, their development remains green and sustainable well into the future, aligning with long-term environmental goals.

At a local level, town centre teams need to engage their local communities with initiatives and activations that drive local change and raise awareness of that town centre, or BIDs, environmental initiatives. At Toolbox Marketing, we have worked with many clients to develop campaigns which support local communities and drive change. Little Longton Uniform Exchange provided vital support to over 500 families, providing over 1,800 items of school uniform to families who needed them. In addition to supporting local families during the cost of living crisis in an already deprived area, the exchange drove the sustainable practice of reusing and recycling, as opposed to buying and disposing.

In the UK, we’re good at setting policy, but there is a deficit on the delivery and implementation side, at least at a national level. What we need is “high-resolution data” (e.g., detailed weather patterns, precise flood risk maps, localised temperature projections, high-definition satellite imagery) at a local scale to assess the risks of climate change and help plan our towns and cities, looking at tradeoffs versus opportunities.

Prioritising retrofitting over demolition preserves the greenest buildings – the ones already existing. Before demolishing buildings in our towns and cities, we must first explore retrofitting, refurbishing, or extending them. Owners, developers, and tenants are showing an appetite for a retrofit-first approach, leading to a rise in enquiries from retailers. The Nike store on Oxford Street, Arding & Hobbs in Clapham Junction, Flannels in Liverpool, and Bobby’s Department Store in Bournemouth are excellent examples of architecturally significant or listed buildings that have been given a new lease of life through creative refurbishment and repurposing. At Toolbox, we specialise in helping destinations like Castle Quarter in Norwich transition from one business model to another, such as a retail-only to mixed-use offering, maximising opportunities and commercial returns.

The 15-minute city concept focuses on designing urban areas where residents can access essential services and amenities – such as work, education, healthcare, shopping, and recreation – within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their homes. This approach promotes sustainability, reduces reliance on cars, and enhances quality of life. By adopting this model, towns and cities can create more vibrant, connected, and resilient communities. Key benefits include lower carbon emissions, improved public health, stronger local economies, and increased social cohesion. Implementing the 15-minute city concept can transform urban spaces into sustainable, happy places where residents and businesses thrive.

A collective approach by towns and cities increases the chance of success for us all. Events like the ATCM Summer School, and organisations like C40, are crucial as they bring together leaders from different places and connected fields to identify challenges and opportunities, enabling positive change through shared knowledge and innovative ideas. By collaborating, towns and cities can learn from each other’s experiences, pool resources, and implement best practices, leading to more effective and sustainable urban development

Changing Shopping Habits in Our Communities
They explored how environmental perceptions of brands influence consumer behaviour, emphasising the growing demand for eco-friendly practices.

Drive Change Locally in Your Community
They provided actionable strategies for driving awareness and success in town centres, highlighting how local efforts can contribute to the broader environmental movement.

Key Environmental Days & Our 7 Tips to Capitalise and Engage Your Community
They discussed leveraging national and international environmental events to amplify local initiatives and shared seven practical tips to maximise community engagement and drive local impact.

Ready to make a difference in your community? Contact us today to learn how we can help you implement effective sustainability initiatives and drive meaningful change locally!

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