Think of a place where you have enjoyed living, felt safe and comfortable, connected and rooted…
The chances are that it was a somewhere with observable and or personal history. A building styled or altered by former occupants, in a streetscape adapted to changes in fashion and technology, part of a neighbourhood evolving within wider social and economic trends, or in a property you helped design, renovate, customise or build. Even a brief history can bring interest and richness that can be absent from new homes and developments. It can help transform spaces in to places.
A sense of place is something we value, intuitively as citizens and, increasingly as the built environment industry. We know that great places are more cherished, popular and valuable. From Futureground’s work with leading developers and landlords, we know that creating place can bring value across the triple-bottom-line.
Planning policies for new developments are now commonly sprinkled liberally with references to the importance of place, and enlightened developers put forwards their placemaking strategies in response. All too often, the proposals fall short – stopping at the delivery of “landmark” buildings within an “exemplary” public realm. Meanwhile strategies are just one way in which we help developers give spaces a recent history, as the beginnings of a sense of place.
Placemaking is not enough. We need to put as much thought, design and resource in to the ongoing curation of these places as we do their creation.
Perhaps Planning policies, development plans and project briefs should also include placekeeping strategies? Alongside design and construction proposals, we could have binding documents setting out robust and deliverable solutions, for how the ongoing stewardship of our new places will be governed, resourced and delivered.
Adding more requirements to the currently overwhelmed Planning system will attract critics. However, in our state of climate crisis, can we afford to invest time, money and materials in to making new places that aren’t set to and supported to thrive in to the long-term?