Published: 28th Mar 2012

One of the documents which seems to have heavily informed the Portas review of the high street is the ‘21st century Agora’ which posited ways to breathe life into town centres by reference to the agora in classical Athens which constituted a political, administrative, social and commercial space at the heart of the city. Portas herself identifies town centres as civic space. She also identified the significance of the changing nature of the consumer. But it seems to me that the agora concept is helpful in emphasising that other staple of classical Athens – the citizen and the role of democracy in a well-functioning state. There is some irony in saying this because the review team did not always cover themselves in glory by seeming to ignore representative democracy’s collective voice at local level and the LGA duly – and rightly – complained. But that should not prevent us from … (To read the full article, subscribe below)