Thames Valley Forum Housing Group meeting on ‘Placemaking’

Community, Collaboration and Covid

The Thames Valley Forum Housing Group met for the first time on 4th February to look at placemaking. The exchange was part of the ideas and suggestions in the ‘Creating a Housing Vision for the Thames Valley’ report released in October 2020.

Presenters were Victor Nicholls, Lecturer from Henley Business School, and Charlotte Johnson, National Account Manager – Residential, at Willmott Dixon. The meeting was Chaired by Andrew Hunter, Director of Place, Planning & Regeneration at Bracknell Forest Council.

The group heard from Victor on the history of placemaking, the current trends such as the ‘15 minute city’ and the key elements which include a clear vision, leadership, and collaboration.

Charlotte provided the context of working with Local Authority partners to achieve their vision for placemaking and taking into account wider issues such as sustainability and skills.

While every place is different and needs to focus on its own unique points, opportunities and challenges, there were some clear aspects from successful places.

Collaboration was key. This means with the community, charity and third sector groups and between private and public sector. The best examples saw these groups coming together at an early stage to co-create a vision and work together as champions for the project through to its completion and beyond.

This can apply to smaller projects as well as larger scale regenerations as they all needed to harness collaboration.

Placemaking does also need to continually be refreshed as society and wider events change the requirements for their area. Covid-19 was an example of this in recent times with the long-term impact on areas such as retail a little too early to predict, but clearly it has made people’s neighbourhoods even more important to them, especially during lockdowns.

Thank you to all those who took part.