A new publication has brought together leading planners, academics, developers and practitioners to outline the priorities and principles of placemaking in London.
Making Good: Shaping Places for People, a collection of essays by think tank Centre for London, highlights some of the complexities and challenges of creating new spaces within the city:
- Local authority planning departments are under-resourced and overworked. New figures from the Greater London Authority’s Planning & Regeneration Capacity Survey 2016 show that 96 per cent of boroughs say they require more delivery skills in their planning departments – particularly in-house design skills.
- London is losing its creative spaces and mixture of buildings. The warehouses, the railway arches, the cheap short-life housing that once allowed cultural innovators the financial space to experiment – are vanishing. A 2014 study for the Mayor of London found that 30 per cent of artists are likely to lose their studios before 2020.
- Residents are often frustrated by the ‘tokenistic’ nature of public engagement around new developments. These approaches can undermine the possibility of intelligent, citizen-led debate about the evolution of the built environment.
While the publication does not provide a blueprint for placemaking, together the essays identify a number of ways to tackle these challenges, and highlight new opportunities to ensure quality place across London:
- Finn Williams, Regeneration Area Manager, Greater London Authority, outlines the mayor’s plans to launch Public Practise, a new initiative to build local authority planning capacity by offering local authorities talented planning practitioners for year-long placements at affordable rates.
- Daisy Froud, makes the case for reviving Popular Planning to try to rebalance the relationship between strategic economic planning and localised decision-making.
- Euan Mills, of Future Cities Catapult’s Future of Planning Programme suggests that adoption of technologies – for example, with the use of 3D modelling – could not only improve engagement with citizens but also the responsiveness of the planning system, by using real-time data outputs to inform long-term policies.
- Sadie Morgan, chair of the Independent Design Panel for HS2, argues that design panels allow for improvement of design through peer critique of projects, and are a simple way of capturing a diverse skillset and harnessing creative potential.
Ben Rogers, Director or Centre for London, said:
“London badly needs to grow, but it has to do so in a way that respects its historic character and enhances public life.
“Yet, as these essays remind us, there is no simple recipe for creating successful new places. Doing so involves collaboration between skilled and dedicated people from a wide range of disciplines. One of the worries that emerges strongly from the collection is that local authorities are cutting back on their planning departments just at the time when they are needed most.”
Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, said:
“This book is a valuable reminder that making great places takes time and involves a thoughtful approach to working with what’s already there, as much as planning ahead for what will come next.
“We need to invest high-quality placemaking, planning and architecture in Londoners’ everyday experience of the city, not just the most prominent projects. This will mean finding new ways for London’s extraordinary concentration of talent to contribute their skills and ideas for the benefit of all our communities.
“As we begin a new London Plan, it’s important that the decisions we make now bring about good growth that works for London’s existing places and people – and has a positive legacy long into the future.”
Dan Labbad, Chief Executive Officer, International Operations, Lendlease, said:
“Now more than ever cities need to find creative ways to overcome the challenges presented by rapid urbanisation. Business, government and communities need to work collectively to create places that will stand the test of time. We are therefore pleased to have partnered with the Centre for London to challenge the concept of placemaking and reconsider how we create new environments that best meet the current and future demands of the people they serve.”
The full list of contributors includes:
- Richard Brown, Research Director, Centre for London
- Robert Bevan, Architecture Critic, Evening Standard
- Neale Coleman, Partner, Blackstock Partnership
- Daisy Froud, Community Engagement Strategist
- Kat Hanna, Research Manager, Centre for London
- Indy Johar, CEO Dark Matter Laboratories, & Executive Director Project CEO
- Dan Labbad, Chief Executive Officer, International Operations, Lendlease
- Sadie Morgan, Co-founding Director, dRMM Architects / Design Chair at HS2
- Euan Mills, Urban Design and Planning Lead at Future Cities Catapult
- Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor of London for Planning, Regeneration and Skills
- Finn Williams, Regeneration Area Manager at the Greater London Authority
- Ben Rogers, Director, Centre for London
- Alan Penn, Dean of the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, UCL
Notes to editors:
- Figures taken from GLA’s Planning & Regeneration Capacity Survey 2016
- This publication was generously supported by Lendlease.
About Centre for London
Centre for London is an independent think tank and charity which finds new solutions to the capital’s challenges. We publish research. We hold events. We collaborate and influence. We work across economic, environmental and social issues, and develop rigorous research and bold, long-term solutions.
Lendlease is a world leader in delivering end-to-end property solutions. Its vision is to create the best places, and specialises in developing large, complex, mixed-use regeneration schemes – working in close partnership with the public and private sector. Lendlease is developing Elephant Park, in partnership with Southwark Council, and International Quarter London in Stratford, in partnership with London & Continental Railways (LCR).