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Future Place report — Placeshaping: Learning from 2020

The 2020 Future Place report explores several strategies for approaching the design of places and spaces after COVID-19.

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Future Place partners decided to adapt the 2020 programme towards a content-led model. The partnership were able to address some of the trends that have been set in motion by the pandemic and explore emerging forms of practice that have been created in response.

The report is an output of these activities and has been created as an intended resource for communities, local authority officers and other practitioners working with placeshaping. The report collates insights from activities run as part of the 2020 programme: informal interviews with local planning officers and architects, contributions from experts and practitioners to the Future Place blog series, and roundtable sessions organised with leading industry voices.

There are five key chapters in the report:

  • Community engagement
  • Design stewardship
  • Healthy places
  • Sustainable placeshaping
  • Town centre regeneration

Each chapter sets out insights and tips for how to apply principles in practice.

We hope the following insights will encourage future thinking — rooted in collaborative engagement processes — and help authorities identify the skills, processes and resources needed to deliver ambitious, vision-based placemaking.

Download the 2020 Future Place report.


  • Development and regeneration must be grounded in strong place visions
  • Creative and blended engagement methods must be developed to ensure communities are consulted and feel represented
  • Measures to support physical and mental health must be built into the visioning, design and delivery of places
  • New models for town centres must be explored to enable high streets to respond to the structural transformations accelerated by the public health and economic crises.
  • Local businesses in particular must be supported in the transition that the economy will go through because of the economic crisis

Recommendations for architects, planners, developers, local authorities and other placeshapers

  • Consult local communities at the brief-setting stage as well as engaging all demographics in consultation and the co-creating on place visions
  • Create well balanced consultations that facilitate conversations around inclusion, access and representation with professional design expertise
  • For large developments, clear monitoring and evaluation processes should be in place to maintain design quality through various phases of delivery.
  • Explore frameworks that are collaborative across professional boundaries on design and delivery of healthy places
  • Consider designing places as part of a wider jobs and skills strategy for local communities recovering from the pandemic
  • Map existing expertise and resources within placeshaping organisations to facilitate effective climate change mitigation as part of forward-looking development and regeneration

Ten Future Place principles

  1. The developing Future Place partnership is bringing together the resources of leading organisations to produce a joined up response to the challenges of making better places across England
  2. Place is the lens through which planning for inclusive growth and regeneration must be viewed to bring together housing, economic development, health and wellbeing, resilience and sustainability and support locally appropriate solutions shaped by communities and stakeholders
  3. Strategic place-based challenges of sustainability, resilience and inclusive growth, and the infrastructure and land management which underpins them, need to be considered at the "larger than local" scale across administrative boundaries
  4. Targeted Future Place thinking, practice and resource mapped to locally defined needs will leverage maximum benefit from investment, whether publicly or privately sourced, delivering high quality places and improved outcomes
  5. Local authorities have a key role to play in leading Future Place thinking across their area to enable cross cutting, coordinated and aspirational approaches. Placemaking should therefore be championed at a senior level within local authorities and their partner organisations
  6. The Future Place programme has acted as a catalyst to encourage and advance transformational thinking on strategic issues facing local authorities, which will accelerate change and innovation in placemaking
  7. Placemaking is a holistic exercise which brings together consideration of system infrastructure (water, waste, energy, movement, green infrastructure), with the design of the public realm and configuration and occupation of built space
  8. Architects have a clear role to play from an early stage in assisting communities and local authorities analyse their placemaking challenges, and articulating visionary and imaginative Future Place solutions
  9. Working collaboratively is at the heart of finding new solutions that are attuned to local needs and are cost effective. The Future Place programme has stimulated collaborative working across local authorities and between local authorities and their partners
  10. Robust community and stakeholder engagement in understanding the place, defining the brief and developing a design is a necessary pre-condition of high quality placemaking. Replicable engagement and co-creation practices applicable to all scales of placemaking are a key output of Future Place

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