A central objective of the Future Place programme is to shape and share practical placeshaping knowledge with local authorities and placemaking professionals across England.
This digital resource shares best practice identified during the first round of the programme. It has been designed to help identify the key challenges relevant to a particular place, and to stimulate new placemaking solutions.
We hope the lessons learnt will encourage future thinking - rooted in collaborative engagement processes - and help authorities identify the skills, processes and resources needed to deliver ambitious, vision-based placemaking.
The Five Future Places shared a series of common challenges:
- accommodating challenging levels of housing growth
- stimulating the economy and rethink the role of the high street and town centre
- meeting the twin challenges of sustainability and resilience
- delivering walkable neighbourhoods and reclaim streets from congestion
- creating greener places and delivering health and well-being for all
Common best practice
The programme demonstrates the clear role architects play in assisting communities and local authorities in analysing their placemaking challenges, and articulating visionary and imaginative Future Place solutions.
Common areas of good placemaking practice which emerged from the first round of the programme include:
Proactive community and stakeholder engagement
Every location shared the aspiration to work proactively with communities and stakeholders to engage more widely in Future Place thinking, and to ensure that all key user groups interests were identified and integrated. See Integreat’s diverse community engagement toolkit produced for Bradford.
Locally generated design solutions
The desire to secure a locally generated design solution borne out of and enhancing the character of the place and aspirations of its people was a common ambition. See how Tonkin Liu combined a community engagement exercise with an analysis of Great Yarmouth to define a new green identity for the town.
Effective project briefing
Another common theme related to the importance of effective project briefing to help local authorities move from broad brush visioning to successful placemaking exercises.
See how all of the Future Place commissions demonstrated that engaging collaborative and innovative architects at an early stage can bring valuable new insights on how to reimagine places before moving onto detailed masterplanning.
Coordinated multi-agency capacity building
Participating local authorities demonstrated a deep commitment to placemaking as well as processes geared at delivery. However, lack of resource and funding represented a critical challenge in almost every case. Future Place provides a vehicle to optimise the existing commitment, expertise and resource in local authorities through coordinated multi-agency support.
Accelerator placemaking programmes
The compressed timeframe required local authorities to work with programme partners at pace and with intensity. The ‘sprint’ process showed how an injection of external design and delivery expertise can help kick start innovative thinking, while building on existing visions and good practice.
Limited resources targeted to maximise impact
With limited public funding available, places need to prioritise projects that can secure the most beneficial and genuinely transformational outcomes. The Future Place programme demonstrates that a cross-cutting approach - which views diverse areas of activity through the single lens of 'place' - enables public funds to be focused on leveraging impact that is ‘greater than the sum of its parts’.
High level political and officer buy-in to ‘total place’ thinking
Across the participating authorities, the greater the high level political and officer buy-in to the opportunity and challenge of Future Place, the more quickly and effectively the projects were advanced. Feedback suggests that championing a place, along with placemaking skills and knowledge, should be embedded at all levels of an authority.
Collaborative cross authority and partnership working
In each of the locations, Bradford, Gateshead, Greater Exeter, Great Yarmouth and North Northamptonshire, the programme has underlined the positive impact of working collaboratively across local authority departments and partnership working to rapidly refine placemaking solutions. The first round of the Future Place programme also demonstrated the vital role that partnership brings to the deliverability of projects.
Based on the experience of the first round of Future Place, we urge government to
- Shift departmental and agency targets to embrace qualitative measures of place as well as numerical targets
- Support cross-departmental engagement to coordinate policies and programmes in support of a common goal of placemaking
- Develop new value and outcomes-based approaches to procurement to enable quality and wider social and environmental measures to be considered both in commissioning consultants and projects, and in the disposal of sites
- Prioritise finding new ways to fund development and regeneration on a long-term, stable and holistic basis
- Consider how it can address at strategic place-based challenges including environmentally and economically sustainable places, infrastructure and land management at the ‘larger than local’ scale
- Consider investing in scaling up the Future Place programme to multiplying the benefits of the programme for local authority skills and capacity – and placemaking – across England
Ten Future Place Principles
- The developing Future Place Partnership is bringing together the resources of leading organisations to produce a joined up response to the challenges of making better places across England.
- Place is the lens through which planning for inclusive growth and regeneration must be viewed to bring together housing, economic development, health and wellbeing, resilience and sustainability and support locally appropriate solutions shaped by communities and stakeholders.
- Strategic place-based challenges of sustainability, resilience and inclusive growth, and the infrastructure and land management which underpins them, need to be considered at the ‘larger than local’ scale across administrative boundaries.
- Targeted Future Place thinking, practice and resource mapped to locally defined needs will leverage maximum benefit from investment, whether publicly or privately sourced, delivering high quality places and improved outcomes.
- Local authorities have a key role to play leading Future Place thinking across their area to enable cross cutting, coordinated and aspirational approaches. Placemaking should therefore be championed at a senior level within local authorities and their partner organisations.
- The Future Place programme has acted as a catalyst to encourage and advance transformational thinking on strategic issues facing local authorities, which will accelerate change and innovation in placemaking.
- Placemaking is a holistic exercise which brings together consideration of system infrastructure (water, waste, energy, movement, green infrastructure), with the design of the public realm and configuration and occupation of built space.
- Architects have a clear role to play from an early stage in assisting communities and local authorities analyse their placemaking challenges, and articulating visionary and imaginative Future Place solutions.
- Working collaboratively is at the heart of finding new solutions that are attuned to local needs and are cost effective. The Future Place programme has stimulated collaborative working across local authorities and between local authorities and their partners.
- Robust community and stakeholder engagement in understanding the place, defining the brief and developing a design is a necessary pre-condition of high-quality placemaking. Replicable engagement and co-creation practices applicable to all scales of placemaking are a key output of Future Place.