4 March 2024

Stuart Harris delivers insights about the retail to resi revolution during the ATCM Conference: We need to talk about housing!

Last week Milligan’s CEO Stuart Harris delivered a keynote to members of the Association of Town Centre Management during their annual conference, which for 2024 was entitled “We need to talk about housing!”

Amongst a line up of insightful speakers and panel discussions, Stuart shared the developer’s perspective and Milligan’s approach to town centre regeneration challenges, highlighting an estimated 40% of surplus retail in the UK, which needs to be addressed.

Stuart opened his address detailing the challenge that multiple ownerships present when trying to create coherent regeneration plans for town centres. He went on to say that this is why many shopping centres and ex-department stores (83% of which have been lost in the UK) present a fantastic opportunity to expedite repurposing and create momentum for regeneration.

Stuart went on to say that his hope for many cities and town centres is that falling rents would attract back independents and local brands, bringing the unique character and identity that is so critical to helping towns and cities stand apart from each other. He also highlighted the work Milligan is doing in Torbay, alongside Torbay Council and Willmott Dixon. In the bay area, which is rich in heritage and visitor attractions, the regeneration partnership is working to repurpose excess retail space, introduce more town centre living and improve public realm and the connectivity between its key towns.

Closing on the point of viability, Stuart said that delivery would depend on partnerships such as this and close collaboration between the public and private sector.