THE first two articles proposed some reasons for the dour nature of Northern towns. Part Four takes the positive ideas gained from a review of Europe’s iconic smaller urban settings in Part Three and adds in a few innovative concepts.

Any proposals to change the Wigan and Huddersfield brands from that of grey and dour to bright, green and vibrant must involve the lessons learnt from reviewing the positive attributes of the iconic towns of Europe aggregated to changes in planning law and Government incentives.

To get green parks and water features similar to those of all great towns and cities requires large-scale compulsory purchase. So why not bring in the only highly regarded and trustworthy land focused norganisation, the National Trust, and create an NTUrban sub-division — NTUrban should join forces with Housing Associations to compulsory purchase, with the appropriate Government planning approval, large nonperforming areas of town centres and their periphery.

We definitely do not need any more shops and these areas will be developed with NTUrban owning the green area for the nation and Housing Associations owning the surrounding plots. Architects and contracted builders will develop high quality apartments and flats up to six storeys high.

But creating desirable housing is only one aspect of town centre repopulation.

Flat dwellers will only return to the town centre if there are sufficient shops, activities and recreation available after 6pm in their location. There will be a need for convenience stores (Bolton currently has none) and more cafes and bars, comedy clubs and other low ticket price live entertainment venues.

To get the tourists into town requires considerations.

Firstly, tourists need somewhere to stay — from basic but clean hostel accommodation to four star luxury.

Secondly, they would like some destination architecture to marvel at, so let’s make some use of those larger iconic buildings.

Thirdly, NTUrban could create a leisure and culture card allowing all UK citizens and foreign tourists a discount at cultural venues. This would boost attendances at all venues and create a circle of business development.

And finally the anti-social behaviour has to be eradicated for good. Bolton’s problem drinking zone is little more than 200 metres square from the junction of Deansgate and Bradshawgate. The laws should be changed so these highly concentrated black spots are broken up with more restaurants and coffee bars.

MIKE Phillips, managing director of Purepages Group in Church Bank, Bolton, is an ex-director of PriceWaterhouseCoopers and KPMG.

Company projects include a global healthcare and medical marketing system with comprehensive and detailed UK career profiles