The #bettertowns consortium comprises a group of experts, each bringing distinct yet complementary knowledge and expertise. Having worked together on many local authority projects, our team has experienced first-hand the benefits of combining architectural creativity, data-led insights, effective stakeholder engagement, and feasibility testing. Our decision to create #bettertowns was driven by a frustration with the lack of genuine collaboration across the industry and a desire to provide a joined-up service capable of taking projects from inception to completion under one roof. We bring to clients a small, consistent team that can be supplemented as necessary with technical and local area specialists drawn from our wide pool of business contacts and associates. We will also be happy to work alongside our client’s own preferred advisors and internal teams.


Each member of the core team has the capacity to reach back into a much wider pool of resource within professional and academic circles. We are therefore capable of tailoring the resource requirements to suit any particular brief.

The #bettertowns team provides reasoned, evidence-based solutions that are unique to your circumstances – and can be delivered.


realestateworks is a business focused on providing asset management solutions to public sector clients in the main. This covers the life cycle from establishing needs, preparing cases for change, identifying opportunities, testing feasibility, creating partnerships with the private sector if necessary, identifying funding solutions and helping to deliver projects.

Brian Thompson, the founder of realestateworks, has advised public sector organisations on regeneration strategies, partnership opportunities and effective asset management with a focus on practical advice and deliverability.

He began his career within the public sector and subsequently led consulting business units within private sector property consultancies. He is now an independent consultant currently advising several local authorities on town centre redevelopment and regeneration schemes. His public sector experience includes:


Edinburgh City Council, Belfast City Council, Glasgow City Council,
Falkirk Council, Shropshire Council, Nottingham City Council, South Staffordshire Council and Watford Borough Council.

HLM Architects

HLM is a multi-disciplinary design practice with a wealth of experience advising local and central government bodies on their land and asset portfolios. HLM brings UK and international experience in masterplanning town centres and strategic zones in cities with an ability to ‘drill down’ into urban design and landscaping. HLM champion ‘thoughtful design to make better places for people’ creating practical solutions which guide and encourage both social and economic development.

As a leading figure within the practice’s ‘Asset & Workplace’ sector, Olivia provides a pragmatic and commercial design-led approach to town centre re-purposing. She is experienced in advising clients on their options when looking at both disused and under-utilised assets and is skilled in working alongside clients to determine the solution which best fits their priorities.

Olivia provides an innovative approach to asset optimisation, using tools and processes which enable clients to fully understand the intricacies and implications of their asset portfolio and make informed, evidence-based decisions which can be understood at officer and Member level and by the community served. Her experience includes:


Shropshire Council, Surrey County council, Watford Borough Council, Harrow Council, South Staffordshire District Council


Didobi is a specialised business providing strategic, data-driven advice and insights to those creating, delivering, and sustaining a vision for town centres. Matthew Hopkinson, a key member of our team, was co-author of the first two Grimsey reviews into the future of town centres.

Matthew is a practical expert in the capture, collation, visualisation and interpretation of data within the property market. He is a nationally recognised expert on ‘High Streets’ where his views are regularly sought by national media outlets. He has been a director of four market leading data and insight businesses where he held roles within research, technology, and sales and marketing.

Matthew provides strategic support, challenge and advice to local authorities, retailers and commercial real estate investors. He has unique experience of working across all stakeholders when developing and delivering a town’s vision. He is a Visiting Professor at University College London and a Volunteer Business Mentor for The Prince’s Trust. His experience includes:

Bassetlaw District Council, Monmouthshire County Council, Cotswold District Council, Sheffield City Council, Newark & Sherwood District Council


University College London, University of Oxford, University of Liverpool, University of Leeds

The CDRC was established in 2014 with funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council and brings together world-class researchers from the University of Leeds, University College London, University of Liverpool and the University of Oxford. Its mission is to lead academic engagement between industry and the social sciences and utilise consumer data for academic research purposes. CDRC provides unique insights into a diverse range of societal and economic challenges in collaboration with a wide range of consumer data providers.


The #bettertowns partnership with the CDRC has been created to bring real benefits to towns and communities across the UK. These benefits include:


  • Providing access to best in class academic institutions and enabling the collation and dissemination of world class research.
  • Providing the opportunity for towns and industry bodies to proactively engage in research on issues that require academic rigour and independence along with access to the depth and breadth of data within academia.
  • Enabling public and private sector organisations to work closer through the medium of independent research.
  • Creating stronger partnerships between towns and academia, delivering more frequent and relevant research that can be accessed by all for the benefit to all.