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Five English regions get expert support for place making

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Five English districts will receive support from architects, planners and other housing delivery experts to improve the design of their built environments under an initiative announced this week

Bradford, Greater Exeter, Great Yarmouth, Gateshead and North Northamptonshire were selected to take part in the Future Place Programme.

Run by the RIBA, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Local Government Association and the Royal Town Planning Institute, the initiative will also include expertise from Homes England.

Training and specialist advice will be offered to the councils involved (see below) which were chosen for their willingness to work with different bodies to deliver meaningful change. They will be given access to Homes England frameworks.

RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said: ‘Local authorities play a vital role in creating happy, healthy and sustainable communities and I am proud to be part of this initiative, which encourages engagement with communities and collaborative approaches to planning and designing the best possible environments.

‘The commitment these authorities have shown, despite financial and political barriers, is highly commendable. I look forward to working with all five over the next phase of the programme, learning lessons as they develop their visions and celebrating their success.’

Local authorities taking part in the programme and their plans

  • City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council aims to create new homes and jobs to attract young diverse communities. Next steps include producing a masterplan for a city village, along with a housing design guide to set out what is expected from new developments.
  • Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council, Mid Devon District Council and Teignbridge District Council, supported by Devon County Council want Exeter to be recognised as one of the most active, healthy and accessible cities in England by 2040. They intend to publish a draft strategic plan for the sub-region in the next year and launch a plan to deliver 12,000 homes over the next two decades. 
  • Great Yarmouth Borough Council is working on a town-centre masterplan as well as seafront regeneration projects, while crafting a culture and tourism strategy and lobbying for a bespoke housing deal.
  • Gateshead Council is committed to creating a lively, connected town centre that promotes health, wellbeing, social interaction and a better quality of life. It aims to establish a future Gateshead leadership board made up of local stakeholders.
  • Northamptonshire County Council, Corby Borough Council, East Northamptonshire Council, Kettering Borough Council and Borough Council of Wellingborough aim to ensure quality design while the sub-region moves towards a 25 per cent population increase. Work planned for the next year includes creating a place-shaping website and a supplementary planning document to assist developers, as well as progressing plans for a new garden village.

Homes England deputy chief executive Tom Walker said: ’The Future Place programme provides an excellent opportunity to work with exemplar councils to understand not only the needs of each place, but how best to break down the barriers and get more homes built where they are needed most.’

Chartered Institute of Housing president Jim Strang said: ’Local authorities play an absolutely vital role in helping to create thriving communities that are great places to live and work and, crucially, in providing genuinely affordable housing.’

Local Government Association housing spokesman Martin Tett said: ’We are proud to be a partner of the programme, which will showcase and provide expert advice to support high-quality place-making.’ 

Royal Town Planning Institute president Ian Tant said: ’It is important that we celebrate planners’ creativity and vision in place-making, as well as the innovative and practical ways that many councils are using to foster the strategic collaborations essential to creating successful places.’  

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Readers' comments (1)

  • People living on the main roads into Exeter city centre might well consider the ideals of 'healthy' and 'accessible' to be mutually exclusive until such time as petrol and diesel powered vehicles are history, the 'park and ride' system is expanded (with the 'park' elements secured against being taken over by travellers' camps), and a regional metro system is developed - possibly even with tram-trains. All by 2040.

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