Unlocking the potential of places

Five visionary local authorities will be able to take part in the 2020 Future Place programme.

Future Place provides an opportunity for local authorities to work intensively with national agencies and bodies to accelerate their visions and build their capacity to unlock the potential of their places.

A package of tailored support to meet the specific challenges and needs of the place will be drawn from the relevant partner bodies – the LGA, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Local Partnerships, Homes England, Historic England and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

This might include a placemaking strategy developed by a RIBA Chartered Practice, and expert advice from Local Partnerships on matters ranging from effective governance structures to housing delivery vehicles. The expansion of the partnership in 2020 to include Historic England will bring even greater breadth and depth to the offer.

Last year’s initial round of the programme has provided evidence that targeted collaborative support can bring a new impetus to placemaking as the focus for a diverse range of local authority priorities.

The first five Future Places – Bradford, Exeter, Gateshead, Great Yarmouth and North Northamptonshire – positively advanced their original visions through participation in the programme. The architects commissioned to work with them all uncovered hitherto unidentified challenges and opportunities, and plans are now in place to build on the placemaking strategies developed.

For example, an illustrated toolkit for diverse community engagement has been developed for City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, which will help its officers to ensure that previously unheard voices feed into the process of updating the City Plan and emerging projects.

A methodology for designing higher-density, car-free, sustainable neighbourhoods in Exeter is being refined and tested by Homes England and the city council, with a view to informing future policy development and the creation of masterplans for key sites.

A high-level masterplan created to reimagine the potential of Gateshead town centre is also acting as a catalyst for a public engagement campaign and to update the urban core delivery plan.

Local or combined authorities interested in applying for the 2020 Future Place programme will need to demonstrate how they will deliver their wider policy ambitions through placemaking, with a focus on sustainability and climate resilience, health and wellbeing, and inclusion – as well as housing, employment and high street regeneration.

The selected Future Places will have a thorough understanding of their place-based challenges and will clearly articulate how participation in the programme will provide a catalyst to advance their vision.

Submissions that demonstrate collaborative working – across departments, the public and private sectors, and adjoining local authorities within strategic planning areas – are particularly encouraged. The final selection will seek to achieve a representative balance of places across different regions, administrations, markets and contexts.

Cllr David Renard, Chairman of the LGA’s Economy, Environment, Housing and Transport Board, has welcomed the scheme: “After the successful work of the five Future Places in the first year, the LGA and Local Partnerships are delighted to continue the partnership with RIBA, Homes England, Historic England and the RTPI, to support and champion the roles of councils to achieve their placemaking ambitions.”

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the application process for Future Place 2020 has been delayed. However, you can find out more about the programme, including the selection criteria, at www.architecture.com/future-place, and read an overview of the 2019 programme and case studies from the first Future Place councils.

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