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Take the economy out of the night-time, say Westminster researchers

13 November 2009

Twenty-four-hour party areas in towns and cities in the UK have boosted local economies but have also led to regular scenes of drunken public disorder.

The problem prompted the Prime Minister to vow at September’s Labour Party conference that he wouldn’t allow the nation’s town centres to be turned into ‘no go areas’ at night.

Now a leading University of Westminster expert on the way local authorities have responded to the liberalisation of licensing laws by embedding the concept of the ’24-hour city’ into their planning decisions to boost economic growth has urged councils to think again.

In a new book published this week, Professor Marion Roberts and her colleague Dr Adam Eldridge argue that town planners have a responsibility to re-design the night-time city to become a place for everyday life, such as shopping, family outings and communal events.

“The concepts of the ‘24-hour party cities’ and the ‘night-time economy’ have become embedded in urban planning and practice. The desire to foster economic growth was therefore set on a collision course with the need to maintain social order,” said Professor Roberts.

“We believe however that built environment professionals have a responsibility in planning and managing the night-time city – a responsibility that cannot simply be shrugged off to licensing officers, the police or even the accident and emergency unit of the local hospital.

“It is now time for the economy to be taken out of the night-time economy,” she said.

'Planning the night-time City', by Professor Marion Roberts and Dr Adam Eldridge, is published by Routledge. Marion Roberts is Professor of Urban Design within the University’s School of Architecture and the Built Environment. 


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