Media Release: University of Stirling’s retail expert joins government’s Review of Town Centres

STIRLING’S Professor Leigh Sparks has been invited to join the Scottish Government’s Review of Town Centres, a national initiative to help breathe new life into Scotland’s town centres.

The task force of experts will meet later this month for the first time and will report to Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities.

Professor Sparks says: “Scotland’s towns and town centres are a defining feature and vital resource for the country. They are at the heart of Scotland and Scottish life.

“They provide enormous social and economic benefits, improve quality of life and meet Scottish Government priorities. In a carbon-challenged future they enhance accessibility and environmental resource sharing.

“Yet Scotland’s towns and town centres are, at best, in a state of decline and arrested decay. It has been widely recognised that Scotland’s town centres need new thinking and life to play their full part in the social and economic life of the country.”

The Review, which is chaired by leading architect Malcolm Fraser, includes a panel of experts from organisations including Ernst and Young, the Association of Town Centre Managers, Scottish Retail Consortium, Creative Scotland, Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.

The review is tasked to agree an action plan for re-energising Scotland’s town centres, addressing issues associated with planning, rents and rates, competition and empty properties.

“This Review provides the best opportunity to come up with radical thinking and action,” says Professor Sparks, “and I am looking forward to being heavily involved.”


Further information from Patricia Hess at or 017856 466 687

Note to editors

Professor Leigh Sparks is Professor of Retail Studies at the University of Stirling’s Institute for Retail Studies and Head of Stirling Graduate School.

He has carried out work for the Scottish government on retail-led regeneration and chairs the Centre for Scottish Public Policy’s Scottish Towns Group, which brings together a range of people with interests in towns to think about policy and practice.

He is also chair of the Scotland’s Towns Policy Group, a board member of the Scottish BIDS company and runs a retail blog at

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Contact: Patricia Hess
Phone: 01789466687