Where are the people in placemaking?
Traditional placemaking is all about buildings, but we believe people should be at the heart of placemaking.
What makes a place special is much more than bricks and mortar – there is no place without the people who bring it to life. Placemaking is formed by reinventing public space to create somewhere people would want to live, work, and learn in. An effective placemaking process makes the most of community assets and community potential, creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and wellbeing for any age, gender, or background. Placemaking strengthens community relationships and fosters creativity, both of which are key for a sustainable society.
The physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place are central to placemaking, as well as the overall design of an area. Locals are the experts of their neighbourhoods after all, and therefore genuine placemaking should involve grassroots innovation, bringing residents together to repurpose and promote better spaces in their neighbourhoods.
Effective placemaking techniques have several benefits for communities. Improving the quality of housing, transportation and accessibility, entertainment facilities, and recreational opportunities in an area will not only help with economic development, but also impact upon community engagement, social cohesion, and local authorities. If placemaking has been successful, people will be attracted to an area, and will want to spend time there; feeling a greater sense of ownership that leads them to advocate for it.
For placemaking to be a success, the whole community must be engaged throughout the process. Effective community engagement and consultation is crucial in establishing a cohesive plan for development. Ongoing partnerships with local people allow developers and local authorities to keep the community front and centre when creating new spaces.
Young people are frequent users of public space and encouraging them to be actively involved will increase their sense of ownership, pride, and respect for the area. Young people are also the future builders, business owners, politicians, and families who will shape these communities for years to come, so their importance should not be underestimated.
Good placemaking can also build greater trust between communities and local government. Increasingly, developers and local authorities are putting communities and young people, in particular, at the heart of their plans – particularly when it comes to regeneration. But it should be par for the course that residents and users of public spaces are properly engaged with and consulted when there are conversations around developments in their communities. Through effective placemaking, public spaces can grow, adapt, and be sustainable for generations to come, transforming them into inviting and exciting places to live, work, shop, and visit. At a time of uncertainty for the high street in particular, creating desirable and vibrant destinations is vital for residents, businesses and councils alike.
To chat about how you can put communities at the heart of your placemaking strategy, get in touch.