Town Centre Services and Solutions

Town Centre Services and Solutions

An independent research organisation, our services offer information, advice, and guidance to Town Centres across the United Kingdom through the provision of robust, valid and detached evidence.

Over the last 20 years our team has worked extensively with Local Authorities, Town Councils, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Local Partnerships, Universities and Retailers on a wide range of projects. Since 2008 we have offered a range of Town Centre Services and Solutions which include:

Town Benchmarking

Here at People and Places Insight we have been running the nationally acclaimed Town Benchmarking System for 13 years in over 350 locations across the United Kingdom. Town Centre Benchmarking provides a detached, impartial evidence base which gathers, measures and analyses data on your Town Centre and offers comparisons against National and Longitudinal figures.

Our Town Benchmarking System has been developed to address the real issues of how to understand measure, evaluate and ultimately improve town centres. The approach offers a simple way of capturing data on Key Performance Indicators selected by those involved in town centre management. By having the tools to measure performance, strategic decision-making is both encouraged and improved. By considering performance, forward strategies and action planning can be more focused and effective.

We review via a combination of audits, surveys and consultations:

Our reports are used by a variety of key stakeholders such as Local Authorities, Town and Parish Councils, Business Improvement Districts, Local Partnerships, Retailers and Universities for;

Visitor Surveys

The aim of our Town Centre User Surveys is to establish how your town is seen by those people who use it. By asking visitors, of all types, a more detailed picture can be obtained as what matters to regular visitors can be very different to someone who has never been to the place before.

We collate the information via a variety of methods, including:

We use the information collated to compare performance against similar sized locations and then work with Town Centres to suggest and implement improvement strategies.

Business Surveys

In regard to ‘Business Confidence’, by establishing the trading conditions of Town Centre businesses, stakeholders can focus their regeneration efforts on building on existing strengths and addressing any specific issues.

We conduct in-depth analysis by interviewing business owners first-hand and on-line. We listen to their thoughts and concerns and feed this information back into our reports. This detached data is then presented back to the Town Centre with appropriate recommendations and comparisons against similar localities.

First Time Visitor Reviews

Those who live and work in towns will have a different perspective of the locality compared to infrequent or first-time visitors. Digital presence, Cultural Events, Evening Economy, Accommodation and Pedestrian Signage are all essential for a visitor but perhaps not as key to those living or working in the area.

We provide a First Time Visitor Review, offering a holistic, fresh and detached overview of your locality. Specialised members of our team who have not visited the town before will complete a review involving scoring and recommendations on best practice from other towns. This includes:

As part of our reviews we also conduct satisfaction surveys to gain first-hand commentary from first time visitors.

Disability Access Audits

As a result of the 2010 Single Equalities Act, all providers of goods and services are legally required to make reasonable adjustments to enable a disabled person to be able to access and use your good and services.

We work with Local Government, Town Councils, businesses and organisations to improve Town Centres for disabled people. Our highly skilled team conduct equalities’ audits which include reviewing and providing recommendations on access to shops and services, making sure highways and pavements are accessible and free of street clutter,
reviewing town accessibility maps and having well developed shop-mobility services.

We are committed to delivering services that meet the needs of disabled people.

Footfall Counts

The arrival and movement of people, whether as residents, workers, visitors or a shopper is vital to the success of the majority of businesses within the town centre. The more people that are attracted to the town, the better it trades and the more prosperous the businesses in it become, provided there is ample available disposable income in that population.

Measuring passing people in a consistent manner in the same place, at the same time builds up a picture of the town, its traders and their relative success over the weeks and months.

We provide a dedicated Footfall audit which is conducted in specific locations for a set period, through a fixed point. This is essential when evaluating the success of a Town or locality.

Advanced Car Parking Studies

Ask the businesses in any town centre about the issues that most perturb them and probably around half will say ‘parking’. Responses from customers will be less predictable depending on their needs and the parking provided.

Due to issues surrounding Car Parking provision, policy and pricing in many of our town centres, we have developed a comprehensive and cost-effective service on town centre parking for councils, business groups and parking providers. This provides an impartial, detached and systematic review of the car parking situation in the designated town centre area; offering an in-depth analysis on parking perceptions, problems and priorities and highlight differ from place to place.

Signage and Wayfinding Reviews

First time or infrequent visitors often prefer to wander and excessive signage can be a sign of failure and that the town is hard to navigate. However, it is important that the ‘first time or infrequent visitors’ are provided with the relevant information to ensure that they can enjoy the retail, food, drink, leisure, cultural and heritage offering in the town centre.
Too often signage in towns indicates civic buildings and local services which are of most value to residents who probably already know how to find them. It is important to indicate the location of key local services such as public toilets, post office, tourist information and heritage centre that can be used by visitors as well. Heritage and landmarks are important attractions that hold visitors in a town and encourage them to wander around.

We offer a Signage and Wayfinding review which includes:

A First Time Visitor Report – mapping out a customer journey from the natural entrances into the defined study area.

An assessment of all existing pedestrian signage in the defined project area. Each individual sign being reviewed in terms of function, appearance and whether the sign is needed or should be moved or removed.

An Action Plan for developing Signage and Wayfinding in the future.


A BID works by empowering local businesses to manage and improve the area in which they trade and to fund local projects and campaigns. A BID can only be formed following consultation and a ballot in which business ratepayers vote on a business plan that sets out how the BID will be managed and operated.

In the UK the BID ballot must be won on two counts: straight majority and majority of rateable value. This ensures that the interests of all businesses, large and small, are protected.

If the ballot is successful, a not-for-profit company is then established to oversee the management and delivery of the BID. Over 250 towns and cities across the UK have established a BID, with many now entering their second five-year term.

Here at People and Places Insight we have supported a number of BIDs with their business plan, including;

As part of our involvement we produce, collate, evaluate a Members survey to ascertain;

People and Places Insight Limited complete a two-pronged approach to ensure all members have the opportunity to complete the survey in the manner which they prefer i.e. paper based and online. We produce a Full Report with Executive Summary within two weeks of the survey closure date. We also provide a presentation of the results and dissemination at an event of your choice. Examples of previous Reports are available on request.