A leading Scottish architect is to spearhead a national initiative to help breathe new life into Scotland's town centres, it has been announced.
Malcolm Fraser has been named as the Chair of the Scottish Government's National Review of Town Centres, which will start later this month.
The review will see a panel of experts from organisations including the Association of Town Centre Managers and the Scottish Retail Consortium agree an action plan for re-energising Scotland's town centres.
They will address issues associated with planning, rents and rates, competition and empty properties.
Current estimates suggest that more than 20,000 commercial properties across Scotland are lying empty.
Mr Fraser said: "Many of our town centres are struggling. This is not just a matter of nostalgic regret - their integrity, liveability and neighbourliness provide Scotland with its creative and business focus.
"I like the wide-ranging brief this review has - it encourages us to examine a wide range of changes and initiatives to lever positive change."
Andy Willox OBE, the Federation of Small Businesses' Scottish policy convenor, added: "We look forward to sitting on this group to work out what our 21st century town centres could and should look like.
"Independent retailers should always have a place in our communities, but we should also consider other ways of bringing employment and enterprise into the centre of our conurbations."