Some years ago I attended a number of presentations on the pending urban regeneration of various northern city centres, i.e. places north of the Watford Gap service station. The phrase 'urban renaissance' was used repeatedly by different speakers.

Since then I have witnessed a number of award winning schemes be constructed. These have proven to be very successful for the investors, developers and retailers (and shoppers).

In a number of cases, however, very little seems to have replaced the retail outlets that relocated to these new retail centres. Therefore, easing the planning laws (as the the Centre for Cities thinktank proposes) could be one means by which these vacant retail units/streets could become part of a much wider and sustained 'urban renaissance'.