Future Place: Unlocking the potential of places

This 2019 report is based on the Future Place Programme, which brought together a team of experts to support five local authorities to accelerate local placemaking activities to address local and broader challenges. It presents five placemaking case studies (Bradford, Exeter, Gateshead, Great Yarmouth, and North Northamptonshire), drawing together best practice learnings and a series of policy recommendations about how to improve places.

Date added 17 June 2021
Last updated 17 June 2021

*This resource is about placemaking. It is not specifically about the High Street, but has been included in response to requests for more studies/information about this topic, as well as linking to vision, networks, and place management priorities for High Street vitality and viability*

This report is based on the Future Place Programme, which brought together a team of experts from RIBA, CIH, LGA, RTPI, and Homes England to “unlock placemaking potential at local level through quality in design, future thinking, and knowledge sharing” (p. 12), with an emphasis on cross-sector collaboration, capacity building, and sharing best practice. As part of this project, local authorities were invited to apply to be part of the programme through showcasing a clear placemaking vision, which also foregrounded sustainability and wellbeing. This resulted in five places being successfully selected to become 'Future Places’: Bradford, Exeter, Gateshead, Great Yarmouth, and North Northamptonshire. Each place then received a needs identification exercise, expert advice, capacity building workshops, and engaged in various knowledge sharing activities.

The report presents a case study of each of the five selected ‘Future Places’, which covers that place’s history; placemaking vision; opportunities; challenges; capacity building activities; and the resultant placemaking strategy, implementation, and impact. Common challenges identified across the case studies are around housing growth, rethinking the role of the high street/town centre, meeting twin challenges of sustainability and resilience, delivering more walkable neighbourhoods, and delivering greener and healthier places. Common best practice was also identified across the cases, as summarised below:

  • The importance of proactive community and stakeholder engagement, as well as collaborative partnership working across local authority departments.
  • Locally-generated design solutions are important for grounding placemaking in the local context.
  • Effective project briefing is important for moving from visioning to action, collaborating with a range of experts and the local community.
  • Coordinated multi-agency capacity building is integral to overcoming any placemaking challenges and to support delivery.
  • There is a need to be strategic in prioritising those projects with the most benefits and impacts given limited funding and time, on both the locality and to tackle wider issues (e.g. social, environmental etc.)
  • 'Total place' thinking across authorities is important for galvanising project buy-in.

Finally, the report offers several key policy recommendations, such as:

  1. Embrace qualitative measures of place, as well as quantitative.
  2. Support cross-departmental engagement around a common goal of placemaking.
  3. Develop new value and outcomes-based approaches to enable the consideration of wider social and environmental issues.
  4. Find new ways to fund development and regeneration on a long-term, stable, and holistic basis.
  5. Consider how wider place-based challenges around the environment, economy, and sustainability can be strategically addressed.