Placemaking Strategy Conference - Speakers

At the Placemaking Strategy Conference, we’re proud to welcome a whole host of high street expert speakers, place-management and regeneration professionals, all dedicated to improving and developing our future high streets. From managing research projects to leading their own high street’s transformation, our speakers have heaps of experience, drive, and determination to share with our attendees.

Speakers from previous events are listed below by way of example. When speakers for the next Placemaking Strategy Conference are confirmed their details will be added. For more information on the topics you can expect to hear about at this year’s event please see our agenda via outline agenda

Clare Bailey

Founder of Future High Street Summit Conferences

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion, is a leading UK retail expert and sought-after retail speaker. She is a frequent media contributor, regularly featured on BBC, ITV, Channel 5, Sky and Bloomberg TV News, various radio broadcasts, in trade press and digital media, commenting on issues affecting retail and the high street.

Clare is most well-known for championing smaller, independent retailers and for her passion for the emerging social, experiential high street of the future.

She is author of 2 books published by Kogan Page, the first ‘The Retail Champion: 10 steps to Retail Success‘, was published in July 2012. The second, entitled ‘How to Sell to Retail – The secrets of getting your product to market‘, came out in February 2013. Read more about Clare Bailey, Retail Expert

Jim Hubbard

Policy Adviser for Local Engagement, Property and Planning, British Retail Consortium

Jim Hubbard is Policy Adviser for Local Engagement, Property and Planning at the British Retail Consortium where he leads policy work on devolving powers, transformational change to retail property and the future of high streets.

Recently he developed the BRC’s Local Engagement Guide helping members navigate the devolution of powers in England.

Specific policy areas include business rates, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Business Improvement Districts, commercial leases and building-specific energy management.

Before joining the BRC he worked on local growth and regeneration policy at the Royal Town Planning Institute where he authored reports including Creating Economically Successful Places and Fostering Growth. Jim earned an MSc from University College London in Sustainable Urbanism.

John Webber

National Head of Rating and Managing Director of Accurates, Colliers International

John is National Head of Rating and Managing Director of Accurates. Although he is focused on advising clients on business rates he has experience in all areas of professional work including Landlord and Tenant, Compulsory Purchase and Valuation. He has also advised clients on acquisition and sales advice.

John is one of only a handful of surveyors who hold the prestigious RICS Diploma in Rating which is the gold standard of rating qualifications. He is a regular contributor on BBC Radio and to National/Local Press. John has received national coverage and spoken indepth about the release of 2017 draft list, he was interviewed for BBC Radio 5Live’s Wake Up to Money and Radio Four’s Today show, he also featured on the BBC lunchtime news. He is a regular contributor to articles in The Valuer magazine and other trade publications.

Gina Wilson

Development Manager, Carnegie UK Trust

Gina focuses on the development of innovative practice, partnerships and communications for the Trust. She oversees a number of towns based and digital programmes – including TestTown, Twin Towns UK, Understanding Scottish Places (, #NotWithoutMe: digital inclusion for vulnerable young people, and Future Libraries Hackathon.

Gina volunteers within the criminal justice system and also serves as a member of the Children’s Panel (the largest legal tribunal in Scotland) making vital decisions to help improve the lives of vulnerable children and young people. Previously, Gina coordinated the development and national rollout of the Scottish Government’s ‘No Knives, Better Lives’ (NKBL) initiative. This youth engagement, education and social marketing programme has demonstrably contributed to positive change in policy, practice and partnership working in relation to violence reduction.

Gina is a member of the Chartered Institute for Public Relations (CIPR) and is usually to be found with a camera slung over her shoulder.

Tim Radley

Founder, VM-unleashed Ltd

Tim Radley, founder of VM-unleashed Ltd, is a retail professional with 25 years of experience of working with a variety of retail businesses from international brands and major shopping centres to local independent retailers and small town centres.

Tim works to introduce best practice in retail location strategy, brand & proposition building, merchandising assortment planning, store environment and display, marketing calendar and promotional integration, omnichannel development, and the evolution of retail teams, organisational structures, processes and tools.

Clients include Primark, Boots, Adidas, Walgreens, Carrefour, M&S, Ferrari, Bluewater, Dun Laoghaire BID, Northumbria University, Portaventura Leisure Parks, Nespresso, Clarks and Real Madrid.

Kevan Blackadder

Director, Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID).

Kevan Blackadder is Director of the Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID).

He was previously Cheltenham Town Centre Manager after spending the majority of his career as a journalist.

Kevan was editor of the Gloucestershire Echo from 2008 until 2014 and was also assistant editor of the Bristol Post.

Polly Barnfield OBE

CEO, Maybe*

Polly Barnfield, OBE is leading the collaborative team that has created and is delivering the #WDYT campaign. She is a multi award winning entrepreneur that thrives on difficult challenges and creating solutions that accelerate change through harnessing existing human behaviour.

Working with Gfirst LEP she is focussing a growing team on finding a scaleable solution to address the digital divide that exists on every UK high street.

Paul Thomas

Executive Director - Development & Growth, South Kesteven District Council

As Executive Manager for development and growth at South Kesteven District Council, Paul Thomas supports an ambitious regeneration programme across a growing district which prides itself on its stone market towns and architectural heritage.

The challenge is to balance modern demands, such as the proposed out of town designer village, with the effective conservation of Grantham’s historic retail core.

Paul draws on his background in planning, urban design and regeneration in working alongside a team that has place-making, and the wellbeing of its residents, at its heart.

Jeremy Rucker

Founder, City Dressing & Head of Sales and Marketing, Blachere Illumination

Jeremy is the founder of City Dressing and Head of Sales and Marketing at Blachere Illumination.

From his roots in public event branding to rebranding shopping centres, he has amassed a large repertoire of examples of unique place making solutions.

Credited with inventing the virtual shop graphic, being a forerunner of Pop Up shops and bringing the first AR game to the market, he is one of the few place innovators in the country combining graphics, lights and digital experiences.

Ian Ferguson

pfbb UK

Ian established pfbb UK in 2005 and it is now one of the most respected UK companies specialising in the development and delivery of Business Improvement Districts in town and city centres and industrial estates.

Prior to pfbb UK Ian had a commercial market and business development background in Retail and Consumer Goods Manufacturing starting his career with Marks and Spencer.

Ian has considerable experience of assessing and reviewing markets for places and businesses, developing strategies and project managing implementation.

Ian was an Advisor for the Association of Town Centre Management Advisory Council for a number of years. He holds an MBA from Leicester University and been course module leader for MSc in Competitive Marketing Strategy at the Leicester Business School.