Shinkansen in London

This week I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 5th World Congress of the Association of Town Centre Management and the International Downtown Association.

Earlier in the week I attended a pre-congress study tour, which consisted of a ride on the Japanese-built Olympic Javelin train from St Pancras to the new Stratford International station and a tour of the Olympic Park, which is ahead of schedule for its construction by 2011. We were then escorted on a tour of Stratford town centre by the council’s town centre manager and told of the various challenges the local authority faces in being the focus of retail and leisure activity adjacent to the Olympic Park and the construction of the 1.9m sq ft Stratford City complex. The event was also interesting in that we were able to receive a presentation from the Yaletown Business Improvement Association team which performed a similar role during the recent Winter Olympics in Vancouver and were able to share a number of insights with the 2012 hosts.

The Congress concerned itself with the outlook for the retail property market and how this is likely to lead to economic recovery and the future vitality of town and city centres, not to mention the essential role place-making has in this. One of the sessions heard from Dr Miki Muraki of Chiba University in Japan on the challenges facing Tokyo’s shopping districts.

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