Developer Milligan speaks at our 'Future High Streets' October event
Above: Milligan CEO Stuart Harris (Courtesy Milligan)
Future Cities Forum is delighted that developer Milligan's CEO, Stuart Harris, will be speaking at our 'Future High Streets' event in London this October. Stuart will join Westminster City Council's Executive Director of Growth, Planning and Housing, Debbie Jackson, the Head of Regeneration at the London Borough of Redbridge, Sharon Strutt, the Leader of Gloucester City Council Richard Cook, and Historic England's Head of Places Strategy, Owain Lloyd-James, among other guests.
As well as overseeing the running of the company Stuart leads on a number of projects. He specialises in town centre regeneration and the repurposing of assets and is currently working on projects with local authorities in Ashford, Sunderland, and Swansea, as well as advising several owners of shopping centres on their repurposing strategies.
Stuart joins our forum following the announcement by the UK government today that 55 towns will benefit from a £1.1 billion levelling up investment, as part of a long-term plan for towns that provide long-term investment in towns that have been overlooked and taken for granted.
The announcement stated that the government will work with local councils and the devolved administrations to determine how towns in Scotland and Wales will benefit from funding and powers under the long-term plans. In Northern Ireland, the government says it looks forward to working with a restored Executive to determine the approach to providing support there.
Under the new approach, local people, not Whitehall-based politicians, it confirmed, will be put in charge, and given the tools to change their town’s long-term future. They will:
Receive a ten-year £20 million endowment-style fund to be spent on local people’s priorities, like regenerating local high streets and town centres or securing public safety.
Set up a Town Board to bring together community leaders, employers, local authorities, and the local MP, to deliver the Long-Term Plan for their town and put it to local people for consultation.
Use a suite of regeneration powers to unlock more private sector investment by auctioning empty high street shops, reforming licensing rules on shops and restaurants, and supporting more housing in town centres.
The government went onto say that more than half the population live in towns, but half-empty high streets, run-down town centres and anti-social behaviour undermine towns in every part of the UK. The announcement marks a change in approach that will put an end to people feeling like their town is ignored by Westminster and empower communities to take back control of their future, taking long term decisions in the interests of local people.
This plan builds on the government’s central mission to level up the UK by putting more power and money in the hands of people who know their areas best to build a brighter future for their community, creating bespoke initiatives that will spark the regeneration needed.
‘Long-Term Plan for Towns’, published (1 October 2023), the government says is carefully designed to complement the wider levelling up programme, working alongside funding for specific projects across the UK, its' targeted support to the places most in need through Levelling Up Partnerships, and initiatives supporting economic growth in wider city regions like investment zones.
The Long-Term Plan for Towns will require town boards to develop their own long-term plan for their town, with funding over 10 years and aligned to the issues that research shows people want the most, including:
Improving transport and connections to make travel easier for residents and increase visitor numbers in centres to boost opportunities for small businesses and create jobs
Tackling crime and anti social behaviour to keep residents safe and encourage visitors through better security measures and hotspot policing
Enhancing town centres to make high streets more attractive and accessible, including repurposing empty shops for new housing, creating more green spaces, cleaning up streets or running market days
Local people will be at the heart of decisions, through direct membership of a new Towns Board, which will include community groups, MPs, businesses, cultural and sports organisations, public sector agencies and local authorities for each town and through a requirement to engage local people on the long-term plan for each town.
These Town Boards will have direct government support in addition to the funding and powers they receive through Long-Term Plan for Towns, and will be required to engage local people on their long-term plan.
The government has also announced a new ‘Towns Taskforce, sitting in the Department for Levelling Up and reporting directly to the Prime Minister and Levelling Up Secretary. This will help town boards to develop their plans, and advise them on how best to take advantage of government policies, unlock private and philanthropic investment and work with communities.
A new ‘High Streets and Towns Task Force’ will also be established, building on the success of the existing version, providing each selected town with bespoke, hands-on support.
Milligan's CEO Stuart Harris says he is passionate about regeneration and gets a huge amount of satisfaction seeing the positive impact that well thought out regeneration can have on our communities.
Milligan has been appointed by Ashford Borough Council to lead on their exciting new Town Centre Reset project which forms part of the Ashford Recovery Plan. The aim is to help revitalise, enhance, and embrace the town centre by focusing on several key points and locations. The vision is to create a vibrant, connected, and improved town centre which serves all its communities, residents, workers and visitors. Allies and Morrison, CACI, PRD and Gleeds, will bring together specialist skills in architecture, urban design, place identity, data, insight and social value creation to help achieve this ambitious and exciting vision.
Milligan will lead the team establishing an action plan with short and medium-term development and public realm improvements helping Ashford Borough Council achieve its ambitious vision, coined as the ‘reset’.
Ashford town centre finds itself at an important crossroads in its history. Its forward-thinking council has already defined several themes that are now shaping its places, destinations and the uses available in the town for its communities. It is important that Ashford is agile and flexible in its response to the declining role of retail, ensuring the future retail and leisure provision is relevant and bespoke to Ashford as well as embracing the changing needs of residents living, workspace, and learning requirements combined with a range of cultural venues and activities.
Using data and insight as well as the Milligan teams wealth of experience, the developer will look at how Ashford can continue to nurture its boutique brands in a way that best fits its changing community’s needs, in a post-pandemic, post-online and post-consumerism and modern town-centre destination.
Milligan is also working on Swansea Central North, a joint venture with Urban Splash, which will develop one of Swansea council’s key sites in Swansea’s Regeneration Masterplan. The development is part of wider proposals for the city led by Urban Splash across six other sites, worth £750m which will transform the city centre and develop new homes and attractions along the coast and riverfront.
Milligan will lead the joint venture team in developing the regeneration strategy on the Swansea Central North site. The location, directly linked to the new Swansea Arena development is an important catalyst site in the city centre regeneration of Swansea.
This new 5.5 acre lifestyle development is positioned alongside the historic market, adjacent to the Quadrant Shopping Centre and includes the former St David’s Shopping Centre. The development may include a new office hub, new apartments for residents and shared flexible workspaces. Milligan will also launch, within the development, its first CreativeTrade, which will become an exciting new makers community and retail experience for the people of Swansea.
Above: CGI sketch of Swansea Central North project (Milligan and Swansea City Council)
Stuart has nearly 30 years’ experience in the design, leasing, marketing, and delivery of retail and leisure led mixed use developments across the UK and Europe. Over this time Stuart has overseen hundreds of deals with occupiers covering retail, F&B, leisure, offices, hotels, and residential.
Previously he was a UK Board Director at Multi Development during the delivery of Victoria Square in Belfast, and SouthGate in Bath. He was a Co-Founder of Queensberry where he helped deliver major award winning projects for both the public and private sectors over a 10-year period. Stuart also sits on the REVO Operations and Strategic Boards.
Over the last fifteen years, Stuart has worked on The Glassworks in Barnsley, Turnsgate Quarter in Guildford, Angel Central, Islington, Metquarter, Liverpool, Borough Yards, London, Corn Exchange, Manchester, Friars Walk, Newport and the Heart of the City II in Sheffield.