In 2020 on behalf of Design West we engaged with 250 stakeholders to define priorities for place shaping in the West of England and develop the framework for a subregional Placemaking Charter. Beginning conversations as lockdown was first introduced it quickly became clear how the pandemic was reshaping how people were thinking about place, community and the natural and built environment.

We asked what challenges has the Covid 19 emergency highlighted, that approaches to placemaking could address in future?

  • Opportunity to sustain the positive quality of life and environmental improvements achieved
  • Need for local shops and parks in safe walking distance
  • Focus on walking and cycling – for all
  • Places that bring people together – importance of integrated communities to resilience
  • Importance of enabling people to support background health

The 15 Minute City being promoted in Paris at the time became an important international reference. The stakeholder group was deliberately muti-disciplinary and reflected different interests from those of communities, local authorities and developers. Conversations also reflected the rapidly shifting policy landscape and the need to enable action on the climate and biodiversity emergencies. The priorities;

  • Responded to the increasing focus on achieving qualitative objectives through the NPPF, National Design Guide and National Model Design Code.
  • Anticipated the Environment Bill, 2021 when net gains in Biodiversity became mandatory. Drawing on the work done to create the West of England Nature Recovery Network.
  • Reflected emerging strategic local transport policy and the national launch of new active travel guidance (Gear Change and LTN 1/20) and the formation of Active Travel England.
  • Honed in on the role of communities in owning and using the Charter and on the importance of compelling design teams to observe and respond to local and cultural distinctiveness.

The Charter is now published it can be found here along with WECA’s action plan and an invitation to sign up. 

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