Top Down? Bottom Up? – Theory or Community? The Application of Current Urban Theory and the Role Of Stakeholders in Shaping and Implementation of Successful Place Based Interventions


SoMAC Art in the City bannersSolutions to Urban problems are often proposed by urban planning professionals based on whatever urban planning theories hold sway at the time.  Often these proposed solutions are generated “top down” by “experts” using an internationalist template of “best practice” with a cursory reference to the communities living within neighbourhoods.  Is there a better, more effective way?

Today it is taken as given by many authorities that in most western liberal societies and certainly within a UK context, modern urban planning should promote diversity, inclusion, complexity and creativity (Baycan-Levent, 2010) (Jacobs, 1961) (Sasaki, 2010) (Florida, 2003).  This is demonstrated by the focus on the social rather than purely functional and economic uses of place by the feminist planners of Cole.Lectiu Punt 6 in Barcelona (Escalante & Ladivia, 2015) (Cole.Lectiu Punt 6, 2019). Urban theory has in parts shown a progression from urban planning framed to develop a distinctly middle-class restorative utopia and blueprint for an ideal society as demonstrated by Ebeneezar Howard’s 1903 treatise “Garden Cities of To-Morrow”  (Tizot, 2018) which postulated an alternative to the overcrowded and polluted industrial cities of the turn of the twentieth century with his solution centred on creating smaller “garden cities” through the now often disparaged view of cities as “machines to live in”  (Le Corbusier, 1946) and Le Corbusier’s “City of Three Million” model (Corbusier, 1929) and subsequent paradigmatic design for “Ville Radieuse” with its geometrically planned for “towers in a park,” produced with no reference to existing neighbourhoods which for more than a generation would influence planners. Reginald Isaacs however rejected earlier definitions of neighbourhood as given by Dahir (1947) pointing out that in modern times people are mobile and therefore can chose to work, spend their money and engage in leisure activities, anywhere in the city and further afield, emphasising that this wide choice and opportunity is the raison d’être for cities (Adams, et al., 1949)

The perceived riposte to the those propounding these physical structure centred theories were influentially voiced by Jane Jacobs, Louis Wirth and others who focussed on the “intricate network of social interrelation” (Wirth, 1938) (Kasarda & Janowitz, 1974) (Jacobs, 1961). Others including “Situationist” artists and architects who in the 1950’s aimed to portray the city as it was experienced by its real residents, not necessarily as it was ‘top down’  planned by urban planners and architects (Badger, 2012)

The theoretical concepts behind these different approaches to place development and planning in of themselves posit that solutions to urban problems often require external intervention (Tizot, 2018) (Le Corbusier, 1946) (Dahir, 1947).  Although Jacobs seems to indicate that solutions to urban problems can arise from within the community itself – for example  she comments that crime can be prevented by “kibitzers”, shopkeepers and the community as a whole through having eyes on the street and a personal investment in the prevention and reporting of that crime (Jacobs, 1961).  Commentators such as Richard Florida have focused on how creativity can have a paradoxical nature, both subverting and being used for production of the neo-liberal city (Florida, 2003) some examples of this in modern times include the direct actions through the “protestival” (protest+carnival) (Carmo, 2012) and there is much evidence on the effects communities can have on place and image or perception of place (Florida, 2003). It could argued that the natural conclusion of the community centred interventions postulated by Jacobs (1961) and latterly by Florida (2003) is the Gentrification of a neighbourhood. Some sources would say that this is also the expected and possibly welcome outcome of urban regeneration, but caveat the importance to consider and resist the neglect and marginalization of those people being” socially cleansed” or displaced by that gentrification (Lees, 2018) (Hamnett, 2003) .

One of the many examples of where urban theory has been applied to real world urban problems is in Gloucester UK. Since 2006 with the formation of the Gloucester Heritage Regeneration Company, much emphasis was placed by that organisation and Gloucester City Council on top-down physical regeneration of the city as a solution.  At the historic Gloucester Docks, massive investment from Peel Holdings, the Regional Development Agency and others led to the regeneration of derelict docks transforming the area with a designer outlet and for the area relatively expensive apartments.  This model has been looked on with envy by some stakeholders in other geographic areas of the city, including some of the principals of the businesses in lower Eastgate quarter and their representatives on the board of the Gloucester Business Improvement District and the perceived benefits that public realm improvements could make to an area in reducing crime, improving footfall, improving the ambiance, increasing property values, increasing business and residential occupancy and so-on. In common with several commentators the process of ‘gentrification’ which was first coined by the British urbanist Ruth Glass in 1964 is perceived by those promoting it as being largely beneficial (Lees, 2018) (Steinmetz-Wood, et al., 2017) (Hamnett, 2003)

Examining in detail the Lower Eastgate area in Gloucester (United Kingdom) that has been identified as needing intervention by businesses in the area and by residents provides an interesting model to critically evaluate the relevance of urban theory when applied in a real world situation and provides lessons for other urban areas.  The Lower Eastgate area is an area of high deprivation in the Barton and Tredworth Ward of Gloucester, one of the poorest in the United Kingdom with a reported 43% of children in poverty (Gloucestershire Live, 2018) it has a high level of ethnic and cultural diversity with 41.4% of the population from non-white ethnic groups, and nearly one quarter identifying themselves as Muslim, one quarter as Sikh and nearly half identifying themselves as Christian (Brinkhoff, 2018).  Lower Eastgate Street forms part of the historic core of Gloucester City, it has an eclectic mix of different uses and includes cultural and architectural heritage that combine to characterise the street including nightclubs, a theatre, take-away and sit in restaurants and independent businesses alongside residential. Gloucester City Council’s Public Realm Strategy categorises Lower Eastgate Street as a secondary street which surrounds the historic gate streets and lanes and forms the outer layer of public realm within the City Centre, having an important strategic and functional role. There have been hopes expressed by the Gloucester Business Improvement District (Gloucester BID) to create an “Urban Village” (Pollard, 2004) similar to the aspirations for Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, which in itself raises some questions about the ultimate benefits to current residents and local business owners which were highlighted by Jane Jacobs and others and as a critical failing leaves unanswered how broader urban regeneration strategies, will affect existing material and social networks, and the potential for “undemocratic, exclusionary geographies being produced through such regeneration schemes” (Pollard, 2004)

An important problem for Lower Eastgate and its environs are perceptions by residents and visitors that crime and anti-social behaviour are at high incidence within the neighbourhood, evidence of crimes reported indicates that initially these perceptions are in some part grounded in fact – during October 2019, 139 crimes were reported in the area with a much lower number of 36 crimes being reported in the the area that reported the second highest number of incidents, however the devil is in the detail as further investigation demonstrates that only 38 of the reported crimes actually took place on Lower Eastgate Street and immediate neighbourhood The remaining crimes related mostly to shoplifting offences that took place in the proximate city centre shopping area (Police UK, 2019) There is also a difference in the class of offences being reported with a higher proportion of antisocial behaviour and violence and sexual offences being reported in the Lower Eastgate immediate area. Conversations with Police officers indicate a direct correlation between this mix of incidents and the concentration of night time and late night economy businesses within Eastgate Street.  As has been commented upon for city districts to be successful it is essential that residents and visitors must   have the perception of assured personal safety and security (Jacobs, 1961) – people can choose to go where they like for goods and services (Isaacs, 1949) and are unlikely to go to areas which are perceived as un-safe or unattractive.  Gloucester City Council and stakeholder groups including the the Gloucester licensed Victuallers Association, Gloucester BID, and The Evening Economy Group, have put much effort into changing perceptions of of the safety and security of the area including working to achieve the Association of Town and City management “Purple Flag” status (Gloucestershire Live, 2018) (ATCM, 2019)
The “Broken Windows” model posited by Wilson and Kelling (1982) proposes there can be a process where neighbourhoods decline into areas of high crime through a developmental sequence of disorderly conditions, wherein “social incivilities”  –  street drinking, antisocial behaviour, and “physical incivilities” for example abandoned buildings and disused  plots, fly-tipping and trash on the streets and so-forth incites fear amongst local residents and visitors. With a growing fear of crime those families that have the means leave the area, and remaining residents develop behaviours where they separate and quarantine themselves from the community.  This leads to a cycle where the lack of control and observation leads to an escalation as anonymity increases, attracting more potential offenders to an area, more antisocial behaviour and increases in serious criminal behaviour. Wilson and Kelling (1982) argued that serious crime developed because the police and citizens did not collaborate to prevent urban decay and social disorder, they used the metaphor that ”a broken window left unrepaired will soon lead to the breaking of all other windows in a building”. Philip Zimbardo’s field experiments with abandoned cars gave some authority to this view indicating that vandalism and more serious crimes can occur anywhere where the jell of civility and mutual regard had been eroded (Zimbardo, 1973). Wilson and Kelling (1982) further contended that serious crime would develop because the police and citizens did not work together to prevent urban decay and social disorder.  Jane Jacobs had a slightly different view arguing that the “public peace” is kept and enforced by the community itself, based on a complex web of voluntary standards and often unwritten rules for behaviour and the police were a secondary influence.  Her discussion of this effect in North End, Boston demonstrated that the resident “kibitzers” (by Jacob’s definition the engaged spectators in a community)  and shopkeepers prevented a high number crimes through their intervention (Jacobs, 1961) this provides a sharp contrast to the examples described by Wilson and Kelling (1982) which were characterized by a lack of topophilia, increasing isolation and anonymity which lead to an increase in crime.

Replicating what is considered to be a successful model developed elsewhere in the city of Gloucester the proposed intervention for Lower Eastgate Street follows current urban theory and practice using a socio-spatial process (Moor, et al., 2006) (Gehl, 1971) (Wilson & Kelling, 1982) and by investing in transforming the public realm and the built environment to develop a pleasanter, more attractive neighbourhood and act as a spur for further regeneration.  Funding for this would in part come from the Gloucester BID, Gloucester City Council and Highways Agency through Gloucestershire County Council. Key to this intervention should be following the clarion cry of Jan Gehl (1971) “Life, Spaces, Buildings – and in that order please” and the principles outlined by Jacobs (1961) and other commentators where the understanding and importance of human behaviour is classed as equally important as the understanding of urban elements including public realm, built environment and transport systems (Gehl & Svarre, 2013).  In line with the theory previously outlined it is proposed that this intervention will help create an area perceived to be safer from crime, safer for pedestrians, create an environment that will build civic pride and encourage inward investment (Collins, 2016).  The example of Kimbrose Triangle and other areas in Gloucester where similar interventions are credited with having the same effects has been seized upon by local business owners as proof that this will work in Lower Eastgate Street, other examples globally also support this (Furlan, et al., 2019 ) (Moor, et al., 2006)

Currently Lower Eastgate Street is dominated by its wide road, carrying two-way traffic and providing bays for a large number of buses and on street parking. There are a number of derelict buildings, and currently no trees or green spaces.

Specific proposed interventions aim to improve the character and quality of the street and encourage pride in place by creating a pedestrian focused and vibrant streetscape that relates primarily to current uses by residents and visitors and has the potential to drive footfall from the city centre and attract inward investment by strengthening pedestrian connections between Lower Eastgate Street and Eastgate Street as well as improving the connections to the primary streets and activity hotspots. It is proposed to reduce the carriageway to four metres, providing wider pedestrian footways to accommodate street trees, furniture and create social spaces and café culture which will promote healthy communities and to achieve high levels of safety and amenity through developing a vibrant community in an environment that is conducive to putting eyes on the street and help to conserve and enhance the historic environment and strengthen the night time economy along the street. Integrating existing parking and bus stops along the street would ensure that the street’s economy and activities are serviced, replicating the current short term parking, drop in/drop off nature of commercial and community activities in the street such as take-away restaurants, nursery, health centre, nail bars and so-on.

On balance notwithstanding some risks, highlighted later, the proposed intervention is one that has much to recommend itself.  The main criticism about the approach outlined above is that the solutions proposed are based on an “expert generated” physical regeneration as a panacea for all urban problems facing areas such as Lower Eastgate Street. Experience has shown the dichotomy between  the livability discourse promulgating a representation for some cities that is in stark contrast to the experience of residents (McArthur & Robin, 2019). While proposals for urban regeneration often talk grandly about the importance of community engagement as shown in the England (UK) regeneration scheme, the 1998–2010 New Deal for Communities programme (Lawless & Pearson, 2012) (Bailey, 2010), they are often light on proposing any social or community initiatives, or engagement by voluntary or public sector to shape the solutions to the issues facing the area such as crime, antisocial behaviour, drugs, prostitution and run down built environment – there often appears to be little effort to genuinely involve the community as a whole from an early stage. The literature recognises that wider stakeholder engagement gives better potential to achieve plan for redevelopment which could garner consensus  and has the potential to mitigate resistance from communities often associated with ‘top down’ urban planning (Newton & Glackin, 2013) (Ball, 2004)

This lack of “ownership” by residents could lead to solutions that are inauthentic to the communities of the area and not fit for purpose for the needs of the community.  The concept of bringing a pocket park has much to recommend itself in general urban theory and practice (Lee & Kim, 2015) however the same empirical evidence indicates that where there is no buy in to development of this type of space and where its establishment is not community led – and potentially “policed” under the “kibitzer” model highlighted by Jacobs (1961) there is a danger of the public space not being adopted by the majority of residents instead becoming a haunt of anti-social behaviour.  A similar pocket park initiative to that proposed was developed in Gloucester’s Conduit street as a “bright idea” from urban planners and within a few years had been closed to use as those engaged in street drinking and antisocial behaviour drove away the families using the space.  Often little commentary is given as to the long term funding for maintenance and policing for such areas and this creates real concern for sustainability (Eichler, 2019) and the potential is evidentially there that areas such as pocket parks can actually reverse urban improvement.

The litmus test for the physical regeneration model highlighted above would be whether it will actually work to reduce crime – or the perception of crime which is almost as important, whether it will genuinely increase footfall and vibrancy in Lower Eastgate, whether the proposed top-down development of a public “pocket park” will actually become a pleasant place for families to use or a haunt for street drinkers and whether the prioritisation of the pedestrian will benefit or be detrimental to local businesses which might rely on cars for their trade, and whether as a whole this intervention will encourage further inward investment.  There is also the ever-present two-edged sword of gentrification with its potential concomitant challenges of exclusionary geographies and influx of spatial capital (Rérat & Lees, 2011). Concerns have been expressed in the local press about the effects of gentrification on rising house prices and rents and the displacement of lower-income families and smaller independent businesses (Gloucestershire Live, 2019). Without the genuine buy-in of the local community there is a potential that authentic locally based initiatives will be lost as regeneration is done “to” the community rather than “by” or with the community and its holistic stakeholder base – the antidote to this is for those involved in urban planning to look at community-centric models such as proposed feminist planners of Cole.Lectiu Punt 6 in Barcelona (Escalante & Ladivia, 2015) (Cole.Lectiu Punt 6, 2019) and repeat as a mantra the directions of Jan Gehl (1971) “Life, Spaces, Buildings – and in that order please”


Adams, F. et al., 1949. Panel I: The Neighborhood Concept in Theory and Application. Land Economics. Land Economics, 25(1), pp. 67-88.

ATCM, 2019. Purple Flag Status: How It Fits Place Management Policy. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 26 November 2019].

Badger, E., 2012. The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams. CITYLAB.

Bailey, N., 2010. Understanding community empowerment in urban regeneration and planning in England: Putting policy and practice in context. Planning Practice and Research, 25(3), pp. 317-332.

Ball, M., 2004. Co-operation with the community in property-led regeneration. Journal of Property Research, 21(2), p. 119–142.

Baycan-Levent, T., 2010. Diversity and Creativity as Seedbeds for Urban and Regional Dynamics. European Planning Studies, 18(4), p. 565–594.

Brinkhoff, T., 2018. City Population. [Online]
Available at:

Carmo, A., 2012. Reclaim the Streets, the protestival and the creative transformation of the city. Finisterra, 47(94).

Cole.Lectiu Punt 6, 2019. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed Nov 2019].

Collins, T., 2016. Urban civic pride and the new localism. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 41(2), pp. 175-186.

Dahir, J., 1947. The Neighbourhood Unit Plan. s.l.:Russell Sage Foundation.

Eichler, W., 2019. Council chiefs sceptical of £1.35m parks fund. [Online]
Available at:

Escalante, S. O. & Ladivia, B. G., 2015. Planning from below: using feminist participatory methods to increase womens parcipation in urban plannig. Gender and Development, 23(1), pp. 113-126.

Florida, R., 2003. Cities and the Creative Class. City & Community, 2(1), pp. 3-19.

Furlan, R., Petruccioli, A. & Jamaleddin, M., 2019 . The authenticity of place-making. International Journal of Architectural Research, 13(1), pp. 151-168.

Gehl, J., 1971. Life Betwen Buildings. 2011 ed. s.l.:Island Press.

Gehl, J. & Svarre, B., 2013. How to Study Public life. s.l.:Island press.

Gloucestershire Live, 2018. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 01 November 2019].

Gloucestershire Live, 2018. What ‘Purple Flag’ status could mean for Gloucester’s pubs and clubs. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2 October 2019].

Gloucestershire Live, 2019. How gentrification has changed Gloucester, area by area. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 17 November 2019].

Hamnett, C., 2003. Gentrification and the Middle-class Remaking of Inner London, 1961-2001. Urban Studies, 40(12), p. 2401–2426.

Isaacs, R., 1949. Panel I: The Neighborhood Concept in Theory and Application. Land Economics, 25(1).

Jacobs, J., 1961. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. 2011 ed. New York: Modern Library.

Kasarda, J. D. & Janowitz, M., 1974. Community attachment in mass society. American Sociological Review, 39(3), pp. 328-339.

Lawless, P. & Pearson, S., 2012. Outcomes from Community Engagement in Urban Regeneration: Evidence from England’s New Deal for Communities Programme. Planning Theory & Practice, 13(4), pp. 509-527.

Le Corbusier, 1929. The City of Tomorrow and its Planning. 2013 ed. London: Corier Corporation.

Le Corbusier, 1946. Towards a New Architecture. London: Architectural Press.

Lees, L., 2018. Comparative urbanism in gentrification studies: fashion or progress?. In: L. Lees & M. Phillips, eds. Handbook of Gentrification Studies. Cheltenham, UK:: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 49-60.

Lee, Y. & Kim, K., 2015. Attitudes of Citizens towards Urban Parks and Green Spaces for Urban Sustainability: The Case of Gyeongsan City, Republic of Korea. Sustainability, 7(7), pp. 8240-8254.

McArthur, J. & Robin, E., 2019. Victims of their own (definition of) success: Urban discourse and expert knowledge production in the Liveable City. Urban Studies, 56(9), pp. 1711-1728.

Moor, M., Rowland, J. & (Eds), 2006. Urban Design Futures. s.l.:Routledge.

Newton, P. & Glackin, S., 2013. Using Geo-Spatial Technologies as Stakeholder Engagement Tools in Urban Planning and Development. Built Environment, 39(4), pp. 473-501.

Police UK, 2019. Crime Map. [Online]
Available at:

Pollard, J. S., 2004. From Industrial District to “Urban Village”? Manufacturing, Money and Consumption in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Urban Studies, 41(1), p. 173–193.

Rérat, P. & Lees, L., 2011. Spatial Capital, Gentrification and Mobility: Evidence from Swiss Core Cities. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36(1), pp. 126-142.

Sasaki, M., 2010. Urban regeneration through cultural creativity and social inclusion: Rethinking creative city theory through a Japanese case study. Cities, 27(1), pp. s3-s9.

Steinmetz-Wood, M. et al., 2017. Is gentrification all bad? Positive association between gentrification and individual’s perceived neighborhood collective efficacy in Montreal, Canada. International journal of health geographics, 16(1), p. 24.

Tizot, J., 2018. Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Idea and the Ideology of Industrialism. Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], Volume 87.

Wilson, J. & Kelling, G., 1982. Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety. Atlantic Monthly, Volume 211, pp. 29-32.

Wirth, L., 1938. Urbanism as a Way of Life. The American Journal of Sociology, 44(1), pp. 1-24.

Zimbardo, P. G., 1973. A Field Experiment in Autoshaping. London: Architectural Press..

Latest tourism stats released today show a massive jump as overnight stays surpass 1 million and 23% more foreign tourists visit Gloucester for overnight visits with many more expected during 2020

Posted on October 11th 2019

It can hardly have passed anyone by who visits Gloucester today, that there have been massive changes in the last ten years. Nowhere have these changes been reflected more than in the massive growth in the number of day visitors and tourists visiting the city from elsewhere in the UK and abroad. The growing success of Gloucester Quays and its events, the beautiful regeneration to the Cathedral quarter, the beautiful historic docks, the refurbished Waterways Museum and this year the restored Llanthony Secunda Priory along with successful events such as the Gloucester Tall Ships and Adventure Festival, Aethelflaed celebrations, SoMAC, Siblings Distillery Art in The City, Gloucester History Festival and the Pro. Insurance Gloucester Goes Retro have all contributed to providing activities and attractions for visitors that has led to a phenomenal growth in visitors to the city.

In 2015 Gloucester overtook Cheltenham in terms of the number of day visitors and total spend of visitors in the city. with nearly £212 million spent by visitors in 2018, a 68% increase on 2010.

Some highlights from the independent South West Research Company shows that in 2018 there were :

  • 3,456,000 day visitors to Gloucester and increase of 8% on 2017
  • 1,004,000 nights stayed in Gloucester Hotels, B&Bs and so-on – a significant increase from 920,000 in 2017
  • A 23% growth from 2017 to 2018 in foreign visitors staying overnight
  • 6% of all employment in the city related to tourism value of tourism


Jason Smith Chief Executive of Marketing Gloucester commented “Gloucester is now very firmly on the tourist map and these figures demonstrate how important it is that as a city we plan for the expected continued growth and the important role that Marketing Gloucester with our partners has had in delivering that growth. It is crucial that we particularly facilitate the development of new hotels, especially in the fully serviced sector as due to the few hotels we have, the strong growth in overnight visitors will be restricted. It is also important going forward that we ensure that we have skilled staff in the hospitality sector and continue to invest in developing bookable products for tour operators”

day visits -county

Paul James leader of Gloucester city Council, said that he was encouraged by the figures commenting “All of the efforts that are going into regeneration of the city by the council, cathedral and private sector partners such as Peel, alongside the high profile promotion for the city which has been led on by Marketing Gloucester are really bearing fruit, bringing money and jobs to the city. Undoubtedly as Kings Quarter and other projects around the city are completed, we are likely to see the number of tourist and spend continue to increase”

Employmentday visits

Recently Marketing Gloucester was successful in bidding for part of a £500,000 fund to bring in US tourists to the city and it is expected that this will see a big upturn in visitors from the USA in 2020.

The above figures highlight how important Marketing Glouecster is to the economic health of the city and some highlights of what has been achieved over the years include:

  • Successes in developing regular sponsorship supporting the events delivered by Marketing Gloucester.
  • Led on the successful development of Gloucester BID and has a high level of support from the 570 businesses which are members and are investing £2.5 million in the city
  • Beat 50 other cities to win prestigious ATCM Best Digital High Street Project in 2018 for the GL Card which received over £370,000 investment to develop in Gloucester
  • Won £400,000 for capex to develop UK:DRIC, the new national digital high street innovation centre
  • Initiated funding bids to Arts Council England and developed the Glouecster Cultural Strategy
  • Led on successful bids totalling £90,000 for external funding to deliver carnival 2018 and 2019 with carnival arts partnership


Since 2016 Marketing Gloucester has consistently raised more income externally than the funding provided by the city council raising over £1.7 million from sponsors, commercial activities and other funding.

The important role that marketing Gloucester has played in helping the city be a cleaner, safer, more vibrant place to live, work, invest, visit and study has been recognised independently in the recent report commissioned by the Council Strategy options for the Gloucester Economy – My Local Economy, January 2017

“With Marketing Gloucester in Place, the City has the organisational capacity that so many other towns and cities lack. It is a real advantage to have the capability for business facing and visitor promotion.”

A report produced for Cheltenham Borough Council states “Marketing Gloucester – demonstrates what can be achieved via a purposeful and single-minded approach to the positioning, product and marketing development of a destination.” Since this report, Cheltenham Borough Council have formed Marketing Cheltenham to try and replicate the success in Gloucester.

The Board and dedicated team at Marketing Gloucester have also worked hard on actions to reduce core costs to the bone and find external funding to ensure services are delivered as requested by the council.

Marketing Gloucester also has a number of other successes, as it has worked towards making Gloucester a better place for businesses, residents and visitors alike including:

  • Events such as the Scrumpty sculpture trail, The Beatrix Potter Trail and Henson Pig trail bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city and funded by Marketing Gloucester through sponsorship without public money
  • The sourcing, set up and relocation of the Gloucester Antiques Centre
  • Over three hundred arts organisations and individuals supported each year through the investment brought in through Marketing Gloucester from external sources above that through local government funding
  • Lead on the successful delivery of the fanzone and cultural events during the Rugby World Cup 2015

Twenty-one new businesses that have opened in Gloucester over the last 12 months

SoMAC Art in the City bannersThere’s always news about shops closing but what about the ones that are opening? Bringing variety and opportunity to Gloucester City Centre, so far, we have seen many new and exciting stores and restaurants join us here in Gloucester and many more are on the horizon including Deichmann, Sundaes Gelato and Barbour!

Five Guys
Fresh and new opening just this month, Five Guys has made its debut at Gloucester Quays. The global fast food chain serves made to order hamburgers and their signature fries cooked in peanut oil. You’ll be spoilt for choice with over 250,000 possible hamburger topping combinations! A full all-American experience.

Clementine Café
This artisan café and gelateria serves coffee, home baked cakes, and variety of gelato sometimes including activated charcoal flavour! Their menu uses fresh, local ingredients while they’re at their very best, bringing delicious seasonal dishes to Westgate Street. The popular café has also opened a branch in Cheltenham.

Hotel Chocolat
The luxury chocolate brand were due to launch their latest store at Gloucester Quays in October, but were ready to open last weekend to the delight of chocoholics everywhere. They use their own sustainably grown cacao, making their chocolate slightly less guilt-free!

Last winter saw the launch of an enormous Adidas outlet in Gloucester Quays. Located in one of the largest units in the shopping complex, the store sells everything from performance wear and trainers through to sport fashion.
Dome Menswear
An independent designer menswear shop has opened on Northgate Street housing brands such as Superdry, Luke and Gant. The boutique store launched in April of 2019 and offers a variety of clothing and accessories, bringing something a bit different to Gloucester City Centre.

Sundaes Gelato
The UK dessert and drinks chain Sundaes Gelato has recently opened a branch in Gloucester on Southgate Street. The restaurant serves sundaes, waffles, milkshakes and much more made from great quality ingredients. Sundaes Gelato also has branches in Birmingham, Sheffield and Oxford to name a few.

Luxury brand, Radley, opened at Gloucester Quays in March. Well known for their handbags and purses with the Scottie dog logo, the stylish London-based company also sell a wide range of accessories including sunglasses, watches and luggage.

Max Gainz Gloucester
A premium sports nutrition store, Max Gainz stocks a range of proteins, amino, drinks and protein bars as well as clothing.

The Winking Owl Fabric Shop
Located on Aldate Street, the Winking Owl supplies a wide variety of fabrics for quilting and dress making as well as patterns. They even run workshops instore, so whether you’re looking to pick up a new skill or get inspired, here’s your opportunity to get crafty!

Blue Inc
The reopening of Blue Inc has brought a wide selection of smart and casual clothing choices back to Eastgate Shopping Centre. The store sells good value men’s clothing and accessories, making it a go to.

Soap Boxx Novelties
Soap Boxx Novelties was new to King’s Square this year. They sell all kinds of soaps, and bathing products and even make bespoke handmade gifts! They also have a range of fragranced products such as scents and spiritual incense.

Wok on Flame
Situated on Westgate Street, Wok on Flame is a noodle bar that serves flavourful dishes form the Far East.

The Med
Formerly Vinings, The Med opened this year bringing a taste of Lebanese, Syrian, Spanish and Greek food to Gloucester Docks. The all Mediterranean dining experience is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner bookings. Dishes include Tapas, sharing platters, grill and much more!

Brimbles Café
The café on Westgate street is housed in the modified circa 1450 building, originally a merchant’s house. The friendly eatery serves delicious breakfasts and good coffee with the option to enjoy delicacies outdoors!

Dick Whittington’s Gloucester
On July 27th the refurbished Dick Whittington’s reopened as a new venture for Severn Cider. The award-winning cider brand have relaunched the public house that has a large function room and garden with a beautiful view of Gloucester Cathedral to have more of a food-based menu than previously.

Comfy Pew (new owner)
Set in a cosy timbered building just around the corner if the Gloucester Cathedral, this little restaurant has had a new owner this year. Ian and his team have introduced a new menu to the restaurant which is in a charming old English building.

Gods of Ink
A tattoo parlour in Gloucester, located on Market parade expanded this year. The well-established studio has five tattoo artists who have studied ink for many years. Services include custom work, cover ups, laser tattoo removal and they even have a barber!

Vision Centre
Previously located on the corner of Market Parade this optician has now reopened on Northgate Street. The Vision Centre provides a total satisfaction guarantee and first-class service when it comes to eyewear.

Bargain Buys
Poundland on Southgate Street has recently been replaced by Bargain Buys! The nationwide family run business aim to provide the very best value on household brands to make every penny stretch that little further!

One Below
The long vacant unit on Eastgate Street previously housing Poundworld has now been taken over by bargain shop One Below. The discount retail store offers customers discounted household favourites. With prices ranging from 29p to £1 this store provides a great value shopping experience for Gloucester.

Still to come!
With so many exciting businesses on their way to opening in Gloucester it’s such an exciting time to be in the city. Over the next few months look out for these shops and restaurants that are launching soon…

Sundaes Gelato
Hooker and 8
Paffuto Pizza
David Christopher Jewellers


Notes for Editors

A range of images can be downloaded from:

Please credit Marketing Gloucester.

Gloucester BID
Gloucester Business Improvement District is made up of 576 businesses in the city centre of Gloucester who voted in July 2017 to invest approximately £2.5 million back into the city.

Marketing Gloucester
The official Destination Management Organisation for Gloucester, it is a public private partnership promoting the City as a great place to live, work, study, visit and invest; locally, nationally and internationally. It organises award-winning events and festivals, delivering to the city and region hundreds of thousands of visitors and millions of pounds of GVA. It engages with businesses and investors and implements programmes to develop pride of place amongst residents.

‘UK’s first real-time shopping directory launches in Gloucester with support of UK:DRIC’


StreetPin is a new digital platform for the community and retail – two of the hottest topics regarding the future of high streets and town centres. It was launched at the UK:DRIC, the national centre for digital retail innovation in Gloucester, this month.

StreetPin seeks to help independent shops, market stalls and local services without the digital know-how, to make the most of the internet. They focus on the huge gulf between digital sales solutions like pay-per-click, Groupon, keyword bidding etc and traditional sales solutions like printed leaflets, circulars and directory listings. The aim is to help the High Street leverage millions of potential small volume deals, disposal-saving promotions and generally make the most of the ‘here and now’.

Retailers on the StreetPin platform can create their own stand-alone website (Pinboard) within minutes and start trading. Each Pinboard is a blend of community conversations, expert advice and instant deals – everything from recipe recommendations from the butchers, to the pop-up shop discounting goods before they close.

Tim Buick, founder of StreetPin, has been delivering digital solutions for large businesses for 20 years and now seeks to make ‘digital’ accessible to those that ‘don’t do digital’. He has built and tested 5 previous versions of StreetPin and has now pulled all these learnings together into a commercially-ready version 6, and will continue to evolve thanks to retailers’ invaluable feedback.

Tim Buick, founder of StreetPin, said:

“StreetPin champions the pillars of local, instant and simplicity. Where many small businesses may get lost creating a digital ad campaign, the high street sports shop knows that their ideal target audience is the group of 200 runners that meet around the corner every Tuesday and the members of the gym 100m away. StreetPin makes these connections possible, simply and affordably.

“The UK:DRIC has been like an extra member of our team, with introductions, testing, lots of social mentions and invaluable insights. With UK:DRIC’s support, we’ve managed to set up our first real multi-venue trial – in the Eastgate Indoor Market. This is an ideal test-bed for StreetPin as there tends to be a high concentration of entrepreneurial traders, with limited experience of engaging customers that are not in their immediate proximity, especially on a digital/real-time basis. With the trial in full swing, we are receiving lots of great feedback and responsively improving our tools, enabling us to provide a real user-centric product, ready to scale throughout Gloucestershire.”

Emily Knight, Director of UK:DRIC, commented:

“StreetPin is an ideal platform for small businesses looking to make their first step in creating an online presence. StreetPin’s enthusiasm and willingness to learn from both retailers and consumers has created an incredibly accessible interface for businesses to post notices and advertise promotions, removing barriers to digital inclusion. It has also been exciting to introduce StreetPin to businesses working with the UK:DRIC as they can already see the potential in collaboration, further enhancing the digital high street ecosystem we are creating in Gloucester.”
If you’d like more information, or would like them to set up your own demonstration Pinboard (Free until the end of the year), please do contact


What are the benefits for retailers?

  • Get online simply and effectively.
  • Get discovered by those ‘here and now’.
  • Respond to weather, good supplier deals, a drop in footfall… Post offers on your Pinboard in seconds to reflect your ever-changing business environment.
  • Focus on what makes you unique and appealing: the in-store experience and wealth of product knowledge. StreetPin helps you relay this on to the devices of shoppers currently passing you by.
  • Turn customers in to communities – generate a loyal following and a reason for customers to keep coming back.
  • Collaborate with other nearby retailers and services – how about offering 25% off coffee, delivered straight to the captive audience waiting at the hairdresser next door?

What’s in it for the shopper?

  • Promotions don’t need to be the standard 10% off the same products, month in and month out – StreetPin deals are unique and within walking distance.
  • Are you a deal hunter? Follow your favourite shops to receive instant updates for ‘buy one, get one free on Tulips until the end of the day’, or ‘half price Zumba class, tonight only’ – instant deals that you’d never see anywhere else.
  • Looking for something in particular? Pop on to a Pinboard from the comfort of your armchair and ask the shop owner: ‘Do you have any scallops in stock today?’
  • Shopping locally has never been so easy – discover that the market stall you’ve never visited before is selling those headphones you’ve been looking for, and pick them up on the way back from work, instead of waiting for Amazon to deliver them by the end of the week.
  • Produce your own FREE Pinboard wherever you are – these forever-free versions need to be created within 250m of your current location to ensure these are contextually relevant. This could be for your local park where you play football, the local mums’ group, an upcoming event…

The real-time directory

  • This pulls together all the deals and conversations from the shops, services and communities nearby. For the first time, you can access all that the High Street has to offer in one place.
  • You can view all content, or just local deals or just local conversations – whatever you’re in the mood for at any given time.
  • By following this directory (it could be for the High Street, or town, or market), you’ll get all the latest, relevant news and offers, directly in your inbox.


If you’d like more information, or would like them to set up your own demonstration Pinboard (Free until the end of the year), please do contact


The Real Thing to perform at Pro Gloucester Goes Retro next month

Multi-million selling soul band The Real Thing will be airing their much-loved disco inspired hits at Pro Global Gloucester Goes Retro on Saturday 24 August, ahead of their nationwide tour next year. Performing on the SoMAC Stage in King’s Square, the group’s two original vocalists, Chris Amoo and Dave Smith, along with their 5-piece band, The Real Thing will provide the climax to the popular FREE August Bank Holiday festival that celebrates music, fashion and, of course, motor vehicles from a bygone age.


Celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut hit single ‘You to Me Are Everything’, the Liverpool based trio boast three million selling hit singles including, ‘Can’t Get by Without You’, ‘Whenever You Want My Love’ and ‘Can You Feel the Force’, making them the UK’s best-selling black group of the late 70s.

Commenting on The Real Thing’s success, singer Chris Amoo said, ‘There’s always going to be a sense of nostalgia about our music. It’s the soundtrack to so many people’s lives and that will never die.’

Also performing in King’s Square is vintage entertainment and dancing throughout the whole day, from acts including UK Swing Dance champions Gary and Sarah Boon and their Gloster Swing Dancers, The Revolutionaries performing vintage favourites from a bygone era, Josie and the Outlaw playing Rock and Roll and Rockabilly and cabaret act Cherries on a Cloud.

The Gate Streets and Gloucester Docks will exhibit cars from different cultural eras and will include vehicles by Aston Martin, Jensen, Bentley, Jaguar, Triumph, Morris and Alvis to name just a few. Westgate Street will host the 1900’s – 1949 featuring time-honoured cars from the turn of the last century through to the War Years, and taking in the Roaring Twenties. Rock around the clock on Northgate Street with automobiles from the decade that gave us Rock n’ Roll. On Eastgate Street you will find motors from the heady days of the Swinging Sixties and Southgate Street will be taking us from the Groovy Seventies right up to the present day.

As well as all of this, members from the cast of the classic BBC comedy series ‘Allo ‘Allo will be attending the event and encouraging fans to have a chat or grab a picture, there will be a number of other characters from television and film making their way around the city centre so be sure to keep an eye out.

There will be several awards up for grabs this year, the Best Dressed competitions will be returning and the organisers encourage you to dress up in your best vintage garb with a number of different categories to enter in to and new for this year there are various photography awards for any keen photographers attending this year’s event.

Councillor Steve Morgan, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Gloucester City Council, said: “Gloucester Goes Retro just gets better and better every year with more activities and people taking part making it one of the top events of its kind! So come and share the day with us in Glorious Gloucester – there is something during the day to appeal to everyone in our vibrant and diverse community – something for the young and not so young – big smiles guaranteed and it’s all free!”

Pro Gloucester Goes Retro Stage Times (King’s Square)

10:00 – 11:00     Sounds of the 50’s and 60’s DJ Set

11:00 – 11:30     Gloster Swing Dance

11:30 – 11:45     Cherries On a Cloud Burlesque

11:45 – 12:30      Josie & The Outlaw (Set 1)

12:30 – 12:45      Gloster Swing Dance

12:45 – 13:30      Josie & The Outlaw (Set 2)

13:30 – 13:45      Gloster Swing Dance

13:45 – 14:30      The Revolutionaires (Set 1)

14:30 – 14:45      Cherries on A Cloud Burlesque

14:45 – 15:00      Gloster Swing Dance

15:00 – 16:00      The Revolutionaires (Set 2)

16:00 – 16:15      Fashion Parade Emma Durrant

16:15 – 16:30      Gloster Swing Dance

16:30                     Prize Giving

18:00                     The Real Thing

Gloucester Goes Retro is sponsored by Pro Global and McCarthy & Stone. It is organised by Cllr Colin Organ, Gloucester City Council, Marketing Gloucester and supported by Gloucester BID.

Find out more information contact Ben Hau at

Waldemar Januszczak, Dr Janina Ramirez and Dr Jonathan Foyle Talk Art History at Sibling Distillery Art In The City

Three of the biggest names in art history will be speaking in Gloucester on Saturday 20 July as part of Sibling Distillery Art In The City.


will be speaking on the subjects ‘Still Lives’, the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the story of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s lavishly decorated bed respectively.

The special talks are part of this year’s Sibling Distillery Art In The City event. They take place in the beautifully restored St Mary de Crypt Church following the live outdoor painting contest and special exhibitions taking place in Gloucester City Centre throughout the day.

Waldemar Januszczak is Britain’s most distinguished art critic. Formerly the art critic of The Guardian, he now writes for The Sunday Times, and has twice won the Critic of the Year award. Renowned for his feisty opinions, Waldemar is also a film maker of television arts documentaries.

Dr Janina Ramirez is a cultural historian, broadcaster and author based at the University of Oxford with a passion for communicating ideas about the past. Janina is no stranger to Art In The City as she was on the panel of judges for last year’s Plein Air competition.

Dr Jonathan Foyle is an award-winning BBC broadcaster who also writes regularly for the Financial Times Weekend.

3.00pm | Dr Jonathan Foyle: The rediscovery of Henry VII’s marriage bed

4:30pm | Waldemar Januszczak: Still Lives

7:15pm | Dr Janina Ramirez – How homes were perceived in the pre-Raphaelite art movement

Tickets for each talk are £10 or £25 for all three and can be purchased online from or on the door.
For more information, contact

Ministerial Visit & GFirst LEP to Officially Open the UK Digital Retail Innovation Centre. Google and IBM in attendance

The UK Digital Retail Innovation Centre (UK:DRIC) will be officially opened on 30 May 2019 by the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James MP,  and the Chair of GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership, Dr Diane Savory OBE. Richard Graham MP will also be in attendance. The launch of the new national centre for the future of the high street, city and town centres will also be attended by tech giants Google and IBM.

Attendees of the launch event will be able see a number of retail innovation projects being showcased in partnership with the UK:DRIC, and will also be able to take part in Google Digital Garage workshops to learn new skills in data, tech and digital marketing.


Margot James MP, Minister DCMS

The UK:DRIC will be working with retailers large and independent to help them develop and apply best practice and upskill.  It has been based in Gloucester as the city provides an exemplar location where solutions have been tested and resolved quickly. The GL Card was one of these solutions and in June 2018, won the hotly-contested ATCM (Association of Town and City Management) award for “Best Digital High Street Project”, beating off 40 other destinations.

As many towns and centres have suffered a decline over the years from the combined effects of out of town retail parks, internet shopping and a change in consumer behaviour, it has become increasingly crucial for retailers and place managers to examine technologies and solutions that will help shape the future of our town and city environments. Understanding the urgency of the situation Gfirst LEP has granted UK Government funding of £400,000 to the place making organisation Marketing Gloucester to launch the UK:DRIC to help develop innovative solutions to the challenges faced by the high street that can be replicated and scaled up across the UK.

Over the past five years the Gloucester has shown that it is proving to be a testbed and pathfinder for future city solutions and the ideal place to locate this national centre.  Its successes in innovation include:

  • Gloucester was one of the first in the world and the first city in the UK to adopt a three-in-one integrated solution with CCTV over IP, free high-speed WIFI across the whole city and 4G being installed simultaneously, winning the city prestigious Gordon McLanaghan Security Innovation Award. The approach has since been adopted by Cardiff, Glasgow, Nottingham, Leicester and Newcastle.
  • Gloucester became the second destination in the world and the first in the UK to partner with Niantic Labs on the Google FieldTrip™ app, which allows virtual, location-based tourism information through smartphones, tablets and wearables. When Niantic was acquired by Nintendo they went on to develop Pokemon Go, the relationship with Marketing Gloucester began to pay real dividends to the city as much of the location data for Pokestops and Gyms was based on existing information uploaded for Fieldtrip™ and Niantic’s app Ingress™. Gloucester has an especially rich environment for Pokemon Go™ players which has attracted players from around the region, encouraging local businesses to purchase lures for outside their premises and boosting the local economy.

Two projects currently being implemented are those being developed by Rewarding Visits, which was granted £1 million from the UK Government, Innovate UK funding, and Maybetech, a solution that is being delivered as part of the DCLG, Great British High Street Project.  Both of these are operating within the digital high street environment with the aim of encouraging purchasing to be made in bricks and mortar business rather than online.

Guy Chatburn of Rewarding Visits, comments “We chose Gloucester as the partner location for the third phase of the role out of our technology, primarily because alongside a great digital infrastructure, the city had a “can do” organisation like Marketing Gloucester that already had the trust of a wide range number of partners throughout the city which  it could rally together relatively easily in order to enable our project to happen.  They were especially good at helping us work with other organisations operating in complimentary areas such as Stagecoach and Trinity Mirror.  There was also a much lower learning curve as Gloucester has a team with a understanding of the tech and the issues facing towns and cities, and that has definitely lead to us having a much stronger offering in a shorter period of time”.

Prof. Richard Cuthbertson of Said Business School, University of Oxford, examining Gloucester’s example as part of a Europe-wide study  “In our research of European cities with a positive focus towards digital technologies, especially those involving small retailers, Gloucester is an excellent example. This city recognises the need for an independent, third party enabler… providing a long-term, single point of contact, developing the relevant digital and physical infrastructure with multiple means of access for customers and retailers, while utilising simple tools, all within a strategy for “place” that encompasses the individual flavour provided by local retailers and services.”






UK:DRIC Launch

Thursday 30 May 2019

The Promenade, First Floor Eastgate Shopping Centre, Gloucester GL1 1AG

11am                  Event starts

11:30am            Talks start in CONFERENCE ROOM:

Diane Savory OBE –  GFirstLEP – Introduction

Jason Smith – Marketing Gloucester – Why Gloucester.
Jayden Halliday – Leading Edge Only (LEO)

Steve Weston – Localy (new project to be launched in Gloucester)

Polly Barnfield OBE – Maybe*
Oliver Banks – Retail Transformation Show
Revealing the Top 5 Retail Challenges – What next?

12.15pm          Guests free to network and view exhibitions

EXHIBITION SPACE: ACP – Wearable Art, OhBOT, UoG Interior Design Screen, ELOTouch, Gamar, IDScan

POD1:    Innovation Lab – Gloucestershire Libraries

POD2: THEIA and Smile Reader

POD3:    HR Department

POD4:    The Growth Hub and Retail Rocks

CO-WORKING SPACE: IBM, LEO, Nettl, ShopAppy, ELOtouch

CONFERENCE SPACE: UoG School of Business and Technology, Smart World Connect, GfirstLEP, Maybe*

2pm-3.30pm   Google Digital Garage

4.30pm            Minister for Digital & the Creative Industries Margot James MP arrives

5.00pm            DEMONSTRATIONS: Gamar, IDScan, Gloucester360, ELO

6.00pm            Event Ends

Gloucester Tall Ships and Adventure Show gives £11.2 million boost to local economy.

After what is being universally hailed as the most exciting Gloucester Tall Ships and Adventure show in its history, businesses across the city have been praising the event for the extra visitors and sales it has brought in to the whole city of Gloucester.

One national brand retailer on Westgate Street reported a 96.6% increase in sales for the same period in the previous year achieving a week’s sales in just two days, making it one of the top ten performing stores in the UK chain.

The hospitality sector has also had a bumper weekend with J D Wetherspoons reporting the best days trade since they were established, even beating records during the Rugby World Cup 2015.

Hotels and bars across the city were filled across the city and with the Gloucester Sea Shanty festival taking place at the same time at fifteen venues across the city, the evening economy has also performed incredibly well with footfall figures showing a 38.1% increase in visitors to lower Eastgate Street indicating that festival goers were staying well into the night to keep the festival vibe going. Kieron Bates, of Rene Group and a Director of Gloucester BID was delighted with the weekends events commenting “Events such as these have a huge positive impact us on our business and others in the city and draw in visitors from all over the country and internationally. The more we can do of this type of event the better”

Marketing Gloucester have produced some preliminary figures which indicate the economic impact of the event on the city, with over 200,000 visitors to the city over the three days of the event it is estimated that 2019’s biggest ever event will have given an £11.2 million boost to the local economy –activity that is equivalent to producing 200 full time jobs for a year.

Gloucester has been been hugely successful in developing itself as a destination for tourists and in 2015 the city overtook Cheltenham to become the most popular in terms of the number of day visitors and total spend of visitors and has been with nearly £205 million spent by visitors in 2017, an 62% increase on 2010.

Some highlights from the independent research which has been commissioned by Marketing Gloucester include:

·       3,203,000 day visits by tourist to Gloucester

·       920,000 nights stayed in Gloucester Hotels, B&Bs and so-on

·       An increase in the proportion of employment related to tourism from 5% of jobs to 7% with over 4,100 people now employed in the sector

Heat map UK

Above is a heat map showing where UK Visitors travelled from to Tall Ships and adventure Show

Jason Smith, Chief Executive of Marketing Gloucester commented on the successes saying “The Tall Ships and Adventure festival, is just one of the many activities partners in the city are undertaking as part of an holistic multistrand branding exercise for the city of Gloucester – alongside the physical regeneration this is helping to reposition “brand Gloucester” transforming its reputation as an exciting visitor destination.  The knock on impact of consistent, quality events, development of visitor attractions such as the Cathedral, museums, docks and Gloucester Quays is that more wealth and jobs are being created in the city and that demand for overnight accommodation is driving a boom in interest from Hotel operators wanting to invest in the city.”

Paul James, leader of Gloucester City council was also very happy with the results and emphasised that they were part of a ten year visitor economy strategy developed by Marketing Gloucester on behalf of and adopted by the city council available at this link >

“Gloucester has really shown itself at its best this bank holiday weekend and with this being ten year anniversary since the opening of Gloucester Quays and the first Tall Ships show it is evident to everyone how far the city has come in that time, it will be very exciting to see how the planned regeneration for Kings Quarter will continue the city’s progress”

“Developing a strategic responses for the City of Gloucester to mitigate the effects of Global trends for decreases in footfall and increases in void retail properties in town and city centres by growing the visitor economy through development of product and place branding and marketing”

Evidences of Global trends for decreases in footfall and increases in void retail properties in town and city centres and causal relationship
Over the past ten years there has been a sea change to city and town centres across the world. The impact of out of town shopping, particularly on middle-order district and local town centres has been ‘strongly competitive’ rather than ‘benignly complementary’ (Thomas, et al., (2004))and latterly the rise of online shopping has taken their toll on many high streets including reducing footfall and increasing vacancy rates through competitive pressures (Weltevreden, 2007)
The changes in market share of traditional retailing in town and city centres has mainly considered vis-à-vis their supply side effects for example, the level to which online shopping and out of town has replaced elements of use of traditional town centres across Europe and the world (Weltevreden, 2007) (Weltevreden, et al., 2014). In the UK between 2008 and May 2018, 409 large and medium sized retailers have gone into administration affecting 28,378 retail stores and 280,425 employees (Bamfield, 2018).
Other reasons that have been identified as contributing to the downturn in bricks and mortar retailers include drops in demand for consumer goods, in part driven by the sluggish economic growth since the financial crisis, intensive price competition and a developing trend for a smaller proportion of household income to be spent on retail, supplanted by spend on holidays and travel, eating and drinking out, experiences and weddings – all of which are growing faster than spend on retail (Bamfield, 2018). This downward trend in spending on comparison goods seems to be replicated in the USA. According to retail consultant Howard Davidowitz, numerous USA midmarket malls, are suffering from this drop in spend (The Manchester Guardian, 2014). Whilst out of town shopping and the rise of internet shopping may not be the only causes, the literature suggest that they are certainly significant contributory factors (Astbury, 2014) (Weltevreden, et al., 2014). It is worth noting though that although there have been significant swings towards online shopping the research evidences that still the vast majority of retail is taking place within a physical retail environment with eMarketer estimating that globally retail ecommerce sales will increase to $4.058 trillion in 2020, making up 14.6% of total retail spending (Chaffey, 2018). and that some retailers are already indicating that future models of retail will likely still benefit from retaining physical “bricks and mortar locations” often on the historical high streets (Retail Customer Experience, 2018)(Grimsey, 2018) Certainly “service” retail which is co-produced with the consumer benefits greatly from having a physical presence on the high street there are however some disadvantages to this high street presence, not least of which in the UK is the disparity in taxation – according to Centre for Cities Research business rates are the equivalent of 2.3% of bricks-and-mortar retailers’ sales and 0.6% of online traders’ sales and prevent shops competing effectively with their online rivals. (Bamfield, 2018)
International trends have shown an increase in empty retail units and a decrease in footfall in many towns and cities (Weltevreden, et al., 2014). It is expected globally that these trends will continue (Ellis-Chadwick, 2018). In the UK as a whole, Store vacancies have been running at around 11.9% for some time, although there was a rise to a vacancy rate of 14.3% in 2011 (Bamfield, 2018). As of February 2019 UK vacancy rates are running at 11.5% (Local Data Company, n.d.). It is widely reported that negative changes to a place including high retail vacancy rates and the loss of key industries or trends in mobility and tourism, can profoundly undermine the reputation of a place (Millington & Ntounis, 2017) which in turn can lead to a deleterious cycle of footfall declines, spend declines, poorly trading/failed businesses, town/city centres becoming less attractive due to higher vacancy rates which again leads to lower footfall and so-on. This is not necessarily demonstrated in all areas, and local effects can influence this (Grimsey, 2018)

Local Impact on Gloucester UK
For the purpose of the this analysis we will be looking in detail as to the impact of these global changes on the city centre of Gloucester, UK a small city with a population of 129,000 and with a hinterland of 150,000 (Office for National Statistics , 2017)
Vacancy Rates and Footfall
As of January 2019, Gloucester has been similarly impacted by the difficulties faced by the high street. We will be investigating through this report how local initiatives appear to have affected the area, analysing the statistics for footfall and vacant retail properties to note differences from national and global changes and investigate any probable causes for those differences in Gloucester.
In Gloucester over the last ten years the global effects of the changes have been mitigated at times for example in 2010 the city was reported to have among the highest number of empty shops in England, according to a study commissioned by the BBC’s Inside Out West programme from the Local Data Company .(BBC, 2010) with retail vacancies at nearly 21.9% in 2010 however these fell to 12.1% in 2016 but rose by December 2019 to 19.3%. (Local Data Company, n.d.). Note that these figures relate to the historic city centre and that current figures for vacancies including Glouecster Quays bring the current vacancy rate to 12.8%

Figure 1figure 1
Source (Local Data Company, n.d.)


Figure 2figure 2


Source Marketing Gloucester

Figure 3figure 3
(source Springboard)

Figure 4figure 4

• Impact on perceptions of place
In Gloucester surveys of local visitors reports in local press (Phillips, 2018) indicate a negative impact on perception of the areas of the city with higher retail vacancies c.f. areas that have been regenerated and perceived to have a lower number of retail vacancies (My Local Economy, 2017)
• Political impact
The concern expressed by businesses and residents in Gloucester has led to a focus by local politicians on physical and culture regeneration with the aim of redeveloping the city and repositioning from a comparison shopping centre to a destination for residents and visitors (Council, 2019).The poor perception of place has been seen as being a potential negative by the political incumbents (Conservative) and conversely positive news in terms of footfall and vacancy rates along with regeneration activity has been seen as a benchmark of political success (Gloucester Conservatives, 2016)
Specific Local issues
In Gloucester as with many UK cities there has been a closing of branches of a number of high street chains which it might be concluded ad naturam would impact footfall. The local picture, evidences that the model is more complicated than it might initially appear for example the percentages of empty stores was skewed with 54 new retail and leisure units being built at the new Gloucester Quays designer outlet during 2009. Many of these units remained unoccupied after the outlet centre was opened and were then filled over subsequent years. As of 2019 there are 641 retail and leisure units (Local Data Company, n.d.) within the city centre of Gloucester as defined earlier in this document, including those at Gloucester Quays – it is evident how the occupancy of these additional units would affect reported percentage levels of vacancy. These additional units at Gloucester Quays were mostly filled by 2015. A further complication has been added to the analysis of 2017 onwards as alongside the impact of national chains closing, there has been a hold back on releasing some of the empty units which have been bought by Gloucester City Council as art of its strategy of land acquisition and consolidation to enable an planned regeneration of a quarter of the city
It can be concluded that Gloucester is subject to the same Global trends regarding footfall and vacancy rates. One element that needs to be taken into consideration in Gloucester is the significant emphasis that has been placed on the visitor economy and events as drivers for footfall, Events such as Gloucester Goes Retro 25th August 2018 increased footfall by 40,000 and in one of the busier retail areas increased footfall for the week by 20% (Local Data Company, n.d.)
The strategic responses to date and planned and evaluation of the efficacy of historical initiatives and examination of current and future planned responses c.f. best practice
Historic strategic responses
As indicated by the literature it has been common practice by cities which have suffered decline to develop strategies to overcome negative stereotypes and change the image of a place into one attractive to investors, property speculators and visitors (Millington & Ntounis, 2017) . The importance of “place marketing” in post‐industrial towns is well documented (Kotler, et al., 1999) and the role of events within a place marketing strategy has been recognised (Wood, n.d.)
Following a high impact flood in 2007 and the subsequent world-wide economic crises the leader and cabinet of Gloucester City Council formed Marketing Gloucester Ltd (Marketing Gloucester Ltd, n.d.) a new public private partnership with a wide remit to engage in place making activities and especially focussed on Place Marketing (Parker, 2011) recognising that to reverse long-term structural decline an holistic place management approach would need to be implemented which following identified best practice widely engaged stakeholders (Brand, 2007). This multifaceted coordinated approach is one that is widely recognised model (Switzer, 2009) (Vanalo, 2008). Also much emphasis is made in the literature that developing the multi-layered “product” of place is a prerequisite for the implementation of an interconnected and credible place-branding strategy (Ntounis & Kavaratzis, 2017)

Strategic initiatives to drive growth through developing the visitor economy through branding, events and promotion

In 2014 a wide reaching strategy was produced by Marketing Gloucester and adopted by Gloucester City Council entitled “Growing Gloucester’s Visitor Economy” (Jason Smith, 2014). This aimed to identify the barriers to growth and set out key actionable strategies and identified 20 areas that could be worked on in order to develop the place product and place branding and marketing, there were 54 actions that were highlighted that could help deliver growth (Jason Smith, 2014, pp. 24-31).
One element of this strategy was to develop the concept of experiential branding through events that would build on the history and heritage of the city and would provide ample opportunities for place marketing to promote the brand positioning (Vanalo, 2008) (Lodder, 2010)

Figures 5, 6


Statistics (figures 5,6) indicate that there has been an upturn in visitors to Gloucester due to this strategy
Building on strategic responses for future growth
There is evidence that best success in place repositioning is based a multistrand, holistic approach which builds a strategy based on “clear or shared” understanding of the identity of a place (Millington & Ntounis, 2017). For those involved in place branding and place marketing this includes two significant elements, firstly the positive portrayal of a place focussing on “the good bits” to attract inward investment, influence the political influencers and encourage visitors and topophilia, secondly the controlling, containment or ignoring of “the bad bits” (Hankinson, 2003) .
Using Events and Place Marketing to develop brand and drive footfall
It has been demonstrated by the direct impact on footfall of events marketing (Wood & Masterman, 2007)and the positive effects on place branding (Wood & Masterman, 2007) that events and place marketing have been significantly successful in having an impact on the growth of the local economy in Gloucester and drivers for footfall. Much of this success has been due to the successful implementation of a focussed place branding exercise and place marketing by Gloucester’s place making organisation Marketing Gloucester (My Local Economy, 2017) (Creative Tourist Consults, 2016) this approach has been successful by the treating of place as an assemblage where contributory elements are used to develop a nuclear product (Hankinson, 2003). This strategy responds to a number of the most important factors identified as affecting vitality and viability of town and city centre’s (Cathy Parker, 2014) such as improving visitor experience, providing entertainment and leisure activities, improving attractiveness through city dressing for events and giving a “hook” to hang place branding and marketing, which is recognised as being an important use of events (Pugh & Wood, 2004). Key to this strategy will be looking at historical anniversaries and connections to significant events as they relate specifically to Gloucester.
Although there should be a multistrand approach to the global challenges faced by Gloucester of falling footfall and increased vacancy rates (Grimsey, 2018) many of these are not quick fixes and require significant capital investment (Gov.UK Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2018)
Resources necessary to implement this response
The building blocks of place branding process have been described as being analysis, strategy and participation (Ntounis & Kavaratzis, 2017)

As demonstrated earlier in this document evidence of trends in footfall and vacancy rates, along with tourism visitor numbers which are collated from footfall counters, vacancy rate counts, Acorn T-Stats, Visit England and so-on are important to informing strategic responses. It will be important to ensure that the collation of these datasets and analysis (Ntounis & Kavaratzis, 2017) is consistent and adequately resourced.
Leadership/Organisation/ Coordination

Effective leadership is identified as essential to effective place branding (Hankinson, 2003) and as discussed previously wide stakeholder buy-in and support can increase effectiveness of activities (Brand, 2007). In the city of Gloucester this leadership is provided on behalf of stakeholders by bodies including the BID, Gloucester City Council, Gloucester Civic Trust, Glouceste Heritage Forum, Gloucester Culture Trust, Gloucester Chamber of Commerce and Marketing Gloucester. The strategy for Place branding, Place Marketing and city events are coordinated and lead on by Marketing Gloucester as mandate by contract with the City Council and Gloucester BID and by formal and informal arrangement with other bodies. Each of these bodies is mandated by statutory status or by their stakeholders. This continued support from stakeholders will be an essential resource to the success of developing and implementing the strategic response of utilising events and especially heritage themed events as a focus for place branding and place marketing. Bodies such as Marketing Gloucester which provide leadership need to be adequately funded to ensure success.
Stakeholder engagement
The place product is managed by a complex organisation of public and private sector stakeholders (Hankinson, 2004) making it difficult to present a consistent brand proposition. Place branding therefore inevitably becomes a coordinated process rather than a managed activity (Hankinson, 2003). Furthermore, the role of coordinator usually falls to local authorities, which operate on low budgets and are subject to political control and interference which further exacerbates the task of brand management. (Hankinson, 2003) In the need to resource this activity has been recognised and has been given to the public private partnership organisation Marketing Gloucester. These type of “Urban Partnerships” are often held up to be good models for stakeholder engagement (Le Feuvre, et al., 2016)
It is important looking forward to continue to review the type of urban partnership that best suits the aims of developing and delivering the strategic responses outlined in the place specific context ensuring avoidance of the “transient tranquilizer of avoidance” or the “high-stakes politics of absolute conquest” relationships between stakeholders, ensuring the main focus of stakeholders is knowledge exchange and collaborative working to give the best opportunity to maximize the chances for success from effective partnership working (Brand, 2007)
It has been recognised in the literature that successful shared intelligence amongst stakeholders engaged in place management can “help inform the identification of new strategic objectives, appropriate interventions and project planning and delivery” (Millington & Ntounis, 2017) Ensuring that there are fora to facilitate stakeholder informing and shaping strategy and helping to implement strategy will be key to the success of the proposed place branding strategic response. These same stakeholders will be needed to provide organisational, leadership and financial resource.
Key to successful place branding and place marketing is ensuring that there is sufficient funding to implement strategies. Marketing Gloucester has developed a rolling 5 year business plan which identifies that a successful implementation of the above strategy including the elements provided on behalf of Gloucester BID will require direct funding for place branding activities, including events and place marketing of approximately £900,000 per annum plus resource for the funding required from partners or leveraged funding for other place making activities.
In April 2018 to March 2019 funding of £1.1 million for Events and Marketing in Gloucester which are aimed to develop place branding, drive footfall in Gloucester came from – Gloucester City Council , Gloucester Business Improvement District (BID), private sector sponsorship, and funding from other bodies such as Visit Britain, Arts Council England, Heritage lottery Fund GFirst LEP and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is envisioned that the ongoing strategy which has been attractive to these funders will continue and built upon with ongoing funding support .
BIDs are becoming increasingly important in the funding and steering of place marketing including events (Morcol, 2008). In Gloucester there is a close symbiotic relationship between the BID and the Destination Management Organisation which is run by Marketing Gloucester. Nearly £2.5 million over 5 years has been committed by nearly 600 businesses to place management, place marketing and events. Currently Gloucester City Council commits £249,000 per annum to supporting Marketing Gloucester, £160,000 of which is spent on events (Gloucester City Council, 2018). In 2019/20 sponsorship and commercial income is expected to reach just under £0.5million.
Currently consideration is being given to Gloucester applying for 2025 UK City of Culture status we would expect the cost to prepare these bids to require and additional £150,000 to £200,000 of direct funding (BirminghamLive, 2010).  There is yet to be produced compelling evidence that UK City of Culture has a comparable return on investment compared with other initiatives.
It is the development of the place product through events, often utilising key heritage physical assets, that is the key factor in the proposed strategy enabling the development of place branding and place marketing activities to drive footfall and help decrease vacancy rates.

Astbury, G. &. T.-G. M. A. S. A. (. 7. 3., 2014. M. Appl. Spatial Analysis, 7(301).
Bamfield, J., 2018. Retail At Bay 2018 Report, May, Norwich: Centre for Retail Research.
BBC, 2010. Gloucester’s rate of empty shops ‘among highest’. BBC News, 9 December, pp.
BirminghamLive, 2010. Cost of Birmingham’s City of Culture bid under £200,000. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 23 February 2019].
Brand, R. &. G. F. (., 2007. Collaborative planning in an uncollaborative world.. Planning Theory, 6(3), p. 282–313.
Cathy Parker, N. N. S. Q. a. S. M., 2014. Identifying factors that influence vitality and viability, Manchester: MMU/IPM/ESRC.
Chaffey, D., 2018. Smart Insights. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 24 february 2019].
Council, G. C., 2019. Gloucester City Council Strategies and Plans. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2019].
Creative Tourist Consults, 2016. Cheltenham Tourism Outcomes Proposition, Cheltenham: Cheltenham Borough Counci.
Daily Telegraph, 2015. Daily Telegraph Sport. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 February 2019].
Ellis-Chadwick, F., 2018. The future of retailing . In: The Routledge Companion to the History of Retailing, . s.l.:s.n., p. 13.
Gloucester City Council, 2018. Gloucester City Council. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed February 2019].
Gloucester Conservatives, 2016. “Let’s Keep Gloucester on the Up” The Conservative Manifesto for the Gloucester City Council elections on 5th May 2016. Gloucester: Gloucester Conservatives.
Gov.UK Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2018. The High Street Report, London:
Grimsey, B., 2018. The Grimsey Review 2, s.l.: s.n.
Hankinson, G., 2003. Relational network brands: Towards a conceptual model of place brands. Journal of Vacation Marketing , 10(2), p. 112.
Hankinson, G., 2004. Relational network brands: Towards a conceptual model of place brands. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 10(2), p. 109–121.
Henry III Coronation – 800th Anniversary Re-enactment. 2016. [Film] UK: Marketing Gloucester.
Jason Smith, L. B. L. C., 2014. Gloucester City Council Strategies. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 18 February 2019].
Kotler, P., Asplund, C., Rein, I. & Haider, D., 1999. Marketing Places: Europe, 1st ed. s.l.:Pearson, Harlow.
Le Feuvre, M. et al., 2016. Understanding Stakeholder interactions in urban partnerships. Cities, Issue 52, pp. 55-65.
Local Data Company, n.d. London: Local Data Company.
Lodder, M. F. a. P., 2010. “The Effects of Experience-Based Marketing Communication on Brand Relations and Hedonic Brand Attitudes: the Moderating Role of Affective Orientation”,. Advances in Consumer Research, Volume 37, pp. 801-802.
Marketing Gloucester Ltd, n.d. Marketing Gloucester Website “About”. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 17 February 2019].
Millington, S. & Ntounis, N., 2017. “Repositioning the high street: evidence and reflection from the UK”. Journal of Place Management and Development,, 10(4), pp. 364-379.
Morcol, G., 2008. Business Improvement Districts: research, theories and Controversies. Public Administration and Public Policy, Volume 145, p. 523.
My Local Economy, 2017. Strategy options for the Gloucester Economy, Gloucester: Gloucester City Council.
Ntounis, N. & Kavaratzis, M., 2017. Re-branding the High Street: the place branding process and reflections from three UK towns. Journal of Place Management and Development, 10(4), pp. 392-403.
Office for National Statistics , 2017. Mid-2017 population estimates, Office for National Statistics , London: UK Gov .
Parker, C., 2011. Place Management: An International Review, manchester: Price Waterhouse Cooper.
Parker, C., Ntouni, N., Quin, S. & Millington, S., 2014. Identifying factors that influence vitality and viability, Manchester: MMU/IPM/ESRC.
Phillips, J., 2018. The shops and restaurants Gloucester lost for good in 2018: Which do you miss the most?. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 25 Feb 2019].
Retail Customer Experience, 2018. Brick-and-mortar retail isn’t dead, it’s just evolving. Retail Customer Experience, 14 September.
Retail Gazette, 2017. Shop vacancies on the up for the first time in 2 years. Retail Gazette, 28 July.
Smith, J., 2017. Gloucester receives part of £500,000 funding to bring in USA tourists. [Online]
Available at:
Smith, J., 2018. Jason I J Smith. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 9 February 2019].
Smith, J., 2019. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2 February 2019].
Switzer, C. a. M. S., 2009. ‘Redrawing cognitive maps of conflict: Lost spaces and forgetting in the centre of Belfast’. Memory Studie, 2(3), p. 337–353.
The Journal of local Government, 2007. £1 billion investment through Gloucester regeneration. The Journal of local Government, 1 February.
The Manchester Guardian, 2014. The death of the American mall. [Online]
Available at:
Thomas, C. J., F Bromley, R. D. & Tallon, A. R., (2004). ‘Retail Parks Revisited: A Growing Competitive Threat to Traditional Shopping Centres?’. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 36(4), p. 647–666.
Vanalo, A., 2008. The image of the creative city: Some reflections on urban branding in Turin. Cities, 25(6), pp. 370-382.
Weltevreden, J. W., 2007. Substitution or complementarity? How the Internet changes city centre shopping. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 14(3), pp. 192-207.
Weltevreden, J., Wrigley, N. & Brookes, W., 2014. Evolving Hogh Street: resilience and reinvention. In: The digital challenge for the high street: insights from Europe. s.l.:University of Southampton, pp. 32-35.
Wood, E. H. & Masterman, G., 2007. Event Marketing: Measuring an experience?. Venice, 7th International Marketing Trends Congress.
Wood, E. H., n.d. Measuring the economic and social impacts of local authority events. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 18(1).