Making the case for place
This 2017 report, from the Future of London and Regeneris, focuses on the practice of placemaking and the measurement of its impact. Based on a Making the Case for Place programme, including debate, roundtables, workshops, and conferences with over 500 participants, the report presents different user perspectives on placemaking, how to measure different values of placemaking, and principles for effective placemaking.
This 2017 report centres on the practice of placemaking and the measurement of its value, moving beyond a focus on solely economic benefits (e.g. footfall), but also considering the social (e.g. people’s well-being), and environmental (e.g. biodiversity) values of placemaking. It draws insight from a Making the Case for Place programme, which included field trips across London, debate, roundtables, workshops, and conferences with over 500 people, and aimed to develop guiding principles for measuring diverse impacts of placemaking.
The report begins by outlining how different groups can value and assess placemaking in differing ways; for instance, whilst a developer might be interested in financial return measured through construction, maintenance and delivery costs, residents may be more concerned with their access to amenities, services and space, assessed through connectivity and number of quality amenities on offer. The authors further explain how there can be both formal and informal means of assessing placemaking value, which occurs before delivery, during delivery, and after completion of the placemaking project.
Next, the report reviews existing valuation guidance documents; from this review, several weaknesses and gaps in existing placemaking valuation guidance is presented, such as:
- An over-focus on economic and commercial impacts, which can be very technical
- More attention given to public sector need, rather than private and civil society
- A complex range of frameworks and toolkits, which can be confusing
- More attention given to quantitative measurements, rather than engaging with place users for qualitative insight
- More focus given to short-term impacts, rather than measurement in the longer-term.
Given the above, the report presents several best practice ways of valuing placemaking, alongside case study examples from across London, which attends to the needs of different communities, seeks to deeply understand a place and its assets, and proactively measures a range of outcomes over time. This includes acknowledging existing community assets through asset-mapping exercises; assessing the wider value of placemaking, moving beyond an over-focus on economic outcomes and using more bottom-up assessment approaches; engaging innovatively and collaboratively with multiple local community groups during each stage of placemaking projects, both online and offline; and measuring long-term outcomes, as well as short-term impacts, drawing on a range of data over time.
The report concludes by presenting a set of guiding principles for effective placemeking and value measurement, covering the following key areas, and stressing it is a cyclical process: Understand; Plan; Procure; Deliver; Evaluate.