How can we create better places for people? And how can we create a vision for a place that inspires real work and real impact, rather than generating just another wish list? Through our consultation, engagement and systems change work, we are helping a growing number of organisations – and places – to explore question like this from different starting points and perspectives. And critically, we’re helping them put citizens at the heart of the process. Sometimes the focus is on physical infrastructure, sometimes on nurturing sustainable communities, and sometimes on building organisational cultures that can lead amid future challenges. Whatever the scale – from the future of high streets to the future of whole regional economies – a focus on place can be a powerful lens for understanding what different possible futures can mean for different people, the tensions that may arise and the trade-offs that may need to be managed. Fundamentally, conversations rooted in place make the future familiar and tangible.
Through The Big Conversation, we have helped Leadership Gloucestershire to involve thousands of local people in thinking about the future of the county to 2050 – including the core challenge of protecting the area’s character whilst generating jobs and housing that can help to retain younger people. We have also been looking ahead to 2050 in Southend-on-Sea, where we worked with the borough council to involve residents, community groups and partners – as well as its own staff and councillors – in shaping a vision for the borough. And working with engineering consultants WSP for Transport for the North (TfN), we are enabling businesses, community organisations and public bodies across the North of England to contribute to long-term planning about the sort of transport infrastructure that enables.
Follow the links to find out more about these recent examples of our work to support inclusive, informed place-making around the country, and contact us to find out how we can help you to think about the future in your part of the world.