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Landmarks of our lives?

Will Robinson

Aria Babu

Eric Holding

Ailbhe McNabola

Mark Robinson (Chair)

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Breakout Session

Tuesday 24th May, London: 13.50 – 14.45

Supported by JTP

What role do local businesses play in fostering community? How can we revive the high street and neighbourhood parades? How can local independent stores compete in a digital age?


  • Will Robinson: Will has over 25 years’ experience, specialising in the delivery, from inception to completion, of a range of mixed use town centre regeneration projects across the UK.  The vast majority of these projects were delivered in Joint Ventures, with Public and Private sector Partners, requiring extensive stakeholder engagement. Will is Development Director at Areli. and is leading on major regeneration projects in Maidenhead and Orpington which are focussed on creating vibrant and socially sustainable town centre communities.

  • Aria Babu: Aria Babu is a Senior Researcher at The Entrepreneurs Network and Head of the Female Founders Forum. Prior to that she has worked at Gentian, a biodiversity startup, The Small Business Charter, a charity seeking to help universities support SMEs, and Public First where she worked on projects about the Economic Impact of Google and how to make funding R&D more popular with politicians and the general public. Her main interests are tech policy, urbanism, and feminism.

  • Eric Holding: Eric Holding is a place strategist, architect and urban designer with over twenty five years of experience. He has led projects involving urban visioning, production of strategic guidance, and the design of large-scale mixed-use developments. In 2020, Eric was appointed as a member of the High Streets Task Force, a government-backed ‘experts register’ to help high streets evolve and respond to the impact of COVID-19.

  • Ailbhe McNabola: Ailbhe is Director of Policy and Communications at Power to Change, an independent trust supporting the growth of prosperous and cohesive communities through community businesses. PtC has invested £100 million into the sector through targeted grants and support programmes. Ailbhe is Co-Chair of the Social Research Association, a membership organisation that promotes excellence in social research. She has extensive programme delivery, policy analysis and research commissioning experience. 

  • Chair: Mark Robinson: Mark is an award-winning entrepreneur and investor in town centres, having co-founded the developer Ellandi in 2008.  At Ellandi, Mark has helped lead its mission to create the UK’s most inclusive and sustainable communities, raising over £1.5bn pounds to invest in more than 30 communities across the UK and Northern Ireland, from Enniskillen to Folkestone.

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