Cliff has operated as a freelance consultant since 2004. He does research, authors reports and is a facilitator and trainer. While at Heriot-Watt University he was also involved in contract research.

He has worked on numerous projects:

  • With Spatial Foresight GmbH ( ) to deliver research-based reports for the ESPON Co-ordination Unit on European territorial development and policy.
  • With the Royal Town Planning Institute ( to deliver the UK National Contact Point for the ESPON 2013 programme. 
  • As an external expert for the Royal Town Planning Institute on transnational projects within the ESPON 2013 programme.
  • For the ESPON 2013 Co-ordination Unit as a peer reviewer on Sounding Boards for research projects.
  • On European Union INTERREG projects.
  • On other European projects.
  • On Commonwealth, international and global projects.
  • On UK projects.  
Thursday, 14 May 2015 06:15

Reviving town centres

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Presenting his new book How to save our town centres: a radical agenda for the future of high streets, Dobson stressed the mutiple roles that town centres play. Not just a collection of shops, they are key to the identity of a town. He pointed to the importance of historic civic buildings as key assets that have potential to accommodate new uses. In planning and managing town centres the aim should be to create value for everyone. There needs to be flexible spaces where people can express themselves. Planners need to be more flexible, though he did not support the idea that change of use from retail to residential should be permitted development.  

He mentioned the success of the Incredible Edible initiaitive and the benefits from bring production and consumption together in town centres. However, he also recognised the formidible barriers presented by the ownership of town centre properties by distant institutions and investors with no real engagement with the town and its citizens. Also increases in capital value are passed on in rents to tenants and not returned to the community.

Dobson is Director of Urban Pollinators which he styles as a "practical think tank". His book will be reviewed on this website.

Read 7995 times Last modified on Thursday, 14 May 2015 10:21

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