Support available for town centres

It is recognised nationally that Town Centres are the beating heart of the community. Focussed within Government policy and the Scottish Government Town Centre Action Plan there are various elements of support available.

Scottish Government Town Centre Action Plan

Town centres are facing challenges of changing and evolving retail patterns. The Scottish Government Town Centre Action Plan introduced in 2013 in response to the final report of the National Town Centres Review. Updated in 2014 and 2015 the action plan is going through a national review and will be published in summer 2021.

It aims to support and invest in town and neighbourhood centres so that they can become more diverse, sustainable, and thriving places for communities to live, work and enjoy. To ensure towns and town centres are vibrant, creative, enterprising, and accessible.


Tools and resources

The following range of tools and resources support how partners can understand, audit, plan, and improve their town centres:

  • Understanding Scottish Places (USP) is a tool which shows how every town in Scotland with a population of 1,000 or more is interacting with its surrounding settlements and performing against a range of indicators and inter/dependency relationships
  • USP Your Town Audit provides the standard benchmark for measuring the health of a Scottish town
  • The Scottish Government Town Centre Toolkit provides guidance on designing and planning town centres to be attractive, accessible, and active, focusing on urban design, quality, sustainability and use of town assets
  • Aberdeenshire Town Centre Toolkit highlights information relating to the town centre support available, and to showcase town centre case studies which have been developed by members of the public, businesses, community councils, voluntary organisations and the public sector

Scotland’s Town Partnership

Scotland's Towns Partnership is Scotland’s national towns’ collective; representing and promoting the diversity of Scotland towns and places and supporting those organisations and groups that have an interest in or ownership of them.

Their role is to act as a hub for relevant news and resources, knowledge and to share exemplar projects. They run various events, facilitate monies from the Scottish Government that is directed to town centres and influence and share policies.

Architect and Design Scotland

Architect and Design Scotland supports the delivery of a wide range of buildings and places including many schools, health facilities, town centres and regeneration schemes. The support communities to shape the places that matter to them and work with decision makers to create resilient and sustainable places across Scotland. They promote Scottish architecture, design and placemaking both nationally and internationally.

Architect and Design Scotland can support with town charrettes, place making and can support any communities deliver the Place Standard which is a framework designed to support communities, public, private and third sectors to work efficiently together to assess the quality of a place.


There are a variety of funds available to community groups and organisations, quite often they differ and have tight deadlines. To keep track of funding open for applications the following two sources are suggested:

Funding Scotland

Funding Scotland allows you to track down funding by theme using the free online search engine. A variety of partners are included, and all funding can be searched from small grants to big capital projects.

Scotland Towns Partnership Funding Tracker

Scotland Towns Partnership Funding Tracker gives up-to-date information of the funds that are open within Scotland. The tracker covers nine categories and highlights new funds that have been announced and those where deadlines are approaching. If an organisation is a member of the Scotland Towns Partnership a funding advice support service is available, where a half day is dedicated to the group or organisation to find the right funding for the project.

Aberdeenshire Rural Development Partnership

Local Rural Partnerships are voluntary groupings who work with and promote the common issues affecting the local communities and work to empower, support and help develop community groups. Rural Partnerships are independent organisations, created and managed by community representatives. The six Rural Partnerships in Aberdeenshire work together as the Federation of Rural Partnerships and contribute to all levels of the Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership.

Rural Partnerships can help communities to:

  • Develop prioritised action plans (Community Action Plans)
  • Support and encourage community led projects, particularly those with economic development outcomes
  • Facilitate engagement and involvement between communities and statutory agencies
  • Build community capacity for groups and individuals involved in projects, mentoring and accessing funding

Contact details for Local Rural Partnerships: