As the project progresses I am thinking a lot about how the presence of local shops affects life in the community and the way informal things can happen around local shops and markets. Local shops sometimes foster a very human scale of vibrant life on streets and it is often the more personal, less regulated and more informal spaces like independent shops and markets that help connect people and communities together.
The issues of local distinctiveness and the idea of ‘creative city’ have recurred in my work across commissions in both the regeneration and art sectors. I’ve seen an important role for independent shopkeepers in shaping the notion of ‘creative city’ as a shared, flexible space; using the pavement a selling space, a meeting space, a space of exchange.
Projects I’ve been involved in Peterborough, Hertfordshire and rural Cambridgeshire all show that local shops encourage a very human scale of vibrant life on streets that have not been sucked dry by a shopping center. However this is changing alongside the implications of regeneration, new malls and the privatisation of public space and its going to be interesting to hear from Lancaster’s independent traders, both new and longstanding on their visions of the future.