Successful placemaking needs a multi-layered focus, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s Innovation Districts, Winning Cities & Investment Briefing, which was held online this week.
‘Places have a huge impact on quality of life and we need a new way of thinking,’ said Graham Hill, Partner, City Executive, ARCADIS. ‘By 2050 there will be an extra 2.5 billion people living in urban areas, two-thirds of the world’s population. We need to get placemaking right’.
The drivers are national, regional and local ambitions; spatial, transport and economic plans; carbon and environmental goals and private sector innovation.
The Covid-19 crisis has made many of these drivers more pressing than ever, he said, including the need for more flexible, modular development, the need for development to form part of a green recovery and a renewed focus on health and wellbeing in place, including access to public amenity space.
Extensive research, which has gone into the report ‘Liveable Places’, has identified five ‘Fundamentals of place’ which need to be considered in order to enable effective placemaking.
The first pillar is Community. ‘People must come first, it is the most critical area,’ Hill said. ‘Place-making must be done with, not to communities, with their consent through outreach programmes and constant engagement’.
The second aspect is Funding & Delivery. ‘As financing is more scarce than ever, development needs to be supported by an evidence-based long-term plan and capacity to deliver’, he said, which involves building expertise and capacity and bringing in the private sector more.
The third element is Design & Public Realm. ‘They are both fundamental to the development of place,’ Hill said. ‘We’ve all seen badly designed, poorly connected districts. Places should respond to people’s needs’. This means establishing strong transport links and good connections, as well as making sure there are public spaces and green areas.
The fourth fundamental is Collaboration. Placemaking cannot be done in a vacuum, but it is a collaborative effort that involves a variety of organisations in both the public and private sectors, so it is important to create mechanisms that allow cooperation underpinned by effective governance.
The fifth pillar is Sustainability. ‘Such is the imperative of the climate emergency that sustainability is not optional but fundamental now,’ he said. ‘This is re-shaping the nature of placemaking and its delivery’. Developments must be resilient and sustainable in every sense and become part of the solution to meeting net zero carbon goals.
‘If all five fundamentals are well-considered, great benefits can be achieved not just in the UK and in Europe but across the world,’ said Hill. ‘The end result will be safer, more vibrant, more resilient communities’.