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IED Online Conference preview: in conversation with Towns Fund Delivery Partner


The Towns Fund Delivery Partner is a consultancy consortium, appointed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to support organisations in successfully accessing the Towns Fund. The consortium provides joined-up support, advice and tools through services to support organisations’ development of Town Investment Plans and business case, as well as access to experts across a range of fields to support economic, social and environmental benefits to towns. The Towns Fund Delivery Partner is sponsoring the ‘Delivering for Towns’ panel session on Day 2 (8.15-9.00am) at the IED Online Conference, ‘Understanding Building Back Better’, on 25th-26th May. Ahead of the conference, we spoke to Peter Sutton, Towns Fund – Funding Delivery Division, Cities and Local Growth Unit, and Joanna Rowelle, Senior Responsible Officer, Towns Funds Delivery Partner.

The title of the conference is ‘Understanding Building Back Better’. What does this mean to you?

“It is an opportunity to hear from local authorities and other economic development professionals about the challenges we are facing as we begin to move from crisis to recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic. Have priorities changed and, if so, what approaches, services and skills will be needed to meet them? A strong vision for the future and narrative backed up by stakeholder and community buy-in is at the heart of the success of towns in the Towns Fund programme that have agreed Town Deals so far. Enhancing our understanding of what people want from the places where they live, work and play will only increase our chances of Building Back Better.”

Tell us about your sessions at the conference – what can delegates expect?

“In the post-plenary slot on Day One, our panel session will provide insights on the Towns Fund from three different perspectives – government, town and delivery partner. Delegates can expect to hear about lessons learned from the programme so far and what is in store over the next few months as more Town Deals move from development to delivery. Our second session, over virtual breakfast on Day Two, will feature members of the Towns Fund Delivery Partner who will discuss how the consortium has come together to support towns through the Town Deal process and in building capability for the long-term.”

Which other aspects of the conference are you especially looking forward to?

“In her role on the National Infrastructure Commission, and following the recent announcement about a new study the Commission is about to undertake into the role of infrastructure in towns, Bridget Rosewell’s closing keynote address promises to take a long-term view beyond the immediate challenges of Covid-19.”

What do you think the next 18 months hold for economic development professionals?

“Investment in our places is becoming ever more important, with the recent Queen’s Speech signposting the government’s commitment to enabling people across the UK to ‘live local and prosper’. Our challenge will be to make the case for investment that can deliver on this promise, while reflecting the shifting reality of post-Covid-19 social trends and behaviour.”

What services do you provide that may be able to help them?

“The Towns Fund Delivery Partner is a consortium of specialist consultancies including Arup, FutureGov, Nichols, Copper Consultancy, Grant Thornton and Savills. We are a team of specialists, working as one but bringing depth and breadth of expertise to the different challenges faced by economic development professionals. It is a model we are likely to see replicated and one we believe brings short and long-term benefits in creating sustainable places.”

Tickets for the IED Online Conference, ‘Understanding Building Back Better’, on 25th-26th May, are still available here.

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