Future places, Royal Town Planning Institute, Placemaking

The first five Future Places have been announced as part of a unique partnership between local authorities, RIBA, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Chartered Institute of Housing to recognise and support high-quality placemaking

March saw the first five Future Places embark on a journey to adopt innovative placemaking strategies that will enhance people’s lives, improve community wellbeing and create more sustainable environments.

The initiative, which was launched in December 2018, is being run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) with the aim of promoting best practice and the potential of new delivery, design and funding models, as well as cross-sector collaboration and knowledge sharing.

The five Future Places chosen as exemplars based on their overarching placemaking visions and innovative approaches – Bradford, Gateshead, Great Yarmouth, Greater Exeter and North Northamptonshire – will see public, private and voluntary sectors work together to create placemaking strategies, supported by training and advice from the Future Places partners.

Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator, has joined the programme to offer expertise and professional skills, with the local authorities behind each Future Place benefiting from a single point of contact at the agency and access to its framework to help them reach specialist services.

Future Places is also being supported by the British Property Federation, the Building Research Establishment, the Construction Industry Council, the Home Builders Federation, the National House-Building Council and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Ian Tant, president of the RTPI, said: “It is important that we celebrate planners’ creativity and visions in placemaking, as well as the innovative and practical ways that many councils are using to foster the strategic collaborations essential to creating successful places.

“The five chosen Future Places show that strong, experienced local planning leadership makes all the difference to delivering places that thrive and work for people. That’s why we’re supporting this programme to further boost leadership development.”


Bradford © John Cade

Bradford’s city centre is ripe for regeneration. It has the youngest population in England and unlike other cities, Bradford has space for redevelopment and opportunities to repurpose buildings.

The City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council aims to transform the city centre by creating new homes and economic opportunities to attract – and retain – young, diverse communities.

The council is taking a “bottom-up” approach with people at the heart of the process. The Future Place programme is seen an opportunity to kick-start the updating of the 2015 City Plan and the 2017 Area Action Plan, which in turn updated a 2003 Masterplan by architect Will Alsop, to reflect the changes and challenges Bradford faces.

The next steps will see a masterplan created for a new City Village, as well as a Housing Design Guide, which will set out what is expected from new developments. The council has committed to cross-sector collaboration to maximise placemaking opportunities and secure long-lasting, meaningful change.


Gateshead Council aims to accelerate the transformation of its town, which is home to around 200,000 people, to create a lively, connected centre that promotes health, wellbeing, social interaction and a better quality of life.

The regeneration strategy adopted by the council in 2008, Fit for a City, is in need of reinvigoration and a Core Strategy & Urban Core Area Action Plan, adopted jointly with Newcastle City Council in 2015, is ready to be advanced.

Plans for the next decade include a new £250m arena and conference venue, along with 1,000 new homes with an “exemplar” neighbourhood, and a revamp of the high street.

A new public transport interchange and rail station have also been identified as priorities.

The council plans to establish a Future Gateshead Leadership Board comprising local stakeholders, and the Future Place programme will support this collaborative approach to reinvigorating the town and creating a well-connected destination where people want to live and work.

Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth is becoming England’s offshore energy capital and will be at the forefront of £39bn in energy investment over the next 20 years, including large-scale offshore wind.

The town is also Norfolk’s top seaside resort, with a tourist economy worth more than £625m a year. Like many coastal areas, however, it also faces complex challenges such as pockets of social deprivation, low wages, decreased land values and poor health and education.

To address these issues, while maximising opportunities for investment, Great Yarmouth Borough Council is taking a place-based approach to planning and delivery, working closely with public and private sector partners to advance regeneration and promote inclusive economic growth.

Plans to attract and retain new visitors and skilled workers include regenerating the historic town centre and better aligning the tourism, culture and heritage offers.

The council is currently working on a Town Centre Masterplan and major regeneration projects along the seafront, as well as creating a Culture & Tourism Strategy.

It is also lobbying for a bespoke housing deal for the town.

The Future Places programme will help to optimise, amplify and advance these initiatives.

Greater Exeter

Exeter is one of the fastest-growing cities in the UK, sitting within a network of rural villages and coastal towns that together are home to around 450,000 people.

By 2040, Greater Exeter wants to be a global leader in sustainable living and one of the most active, healthy and accessible cities in England. To deliver this, five local authorities – Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council, Mid Devon District Council and Teignbridge District Council with support from Devon County Council – have come together to create Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, a joined-up vision for the area.

Joint initiatives include making public transport quicker and more convenient, promoting active travel, freeing up land used for driving and parking for social uses, and building more green spaces with arts and cultural facilities to encourage healthier lifestyles.

In the next 12 months, the authorities intend to publish a draft Strategic Plan for the new Exeter sub-region and launch a plan to deliver 12,000 homes for the city between 2020 and 2040.

Greater Exeter will work with its community interest company, Exeter City Futures, to draw on the Future Place programme to ensure placemaking is at the heart of its approach to the challenges facing its growing and varied communities.

North Northamptonshire

North Northamptonshire comprises five local authorities – Northamptonshire County Council, Corby Borough Council, East Northamptonshire Council, Kettering Borough Council and the Borough Council of Wellingborough – that are moving towards the formation of a unitary authority.

Their growth strategy aims to build 40,000 homes between 2011 and 2031, and to create high quality Garden Communities, including a new Garden Village. A joint planning committee and Joint Planning Unit (JPU) have been in place since 2004. In 2017, the JPU was combined with a delivery unit to create the Joint Planning & Deliver Unit (JDPU).

North Northamptonshire

This new body aims advance the growth agenda, increasing the area’s population by 25%, and ensure quality design.

A number of place-shaping policies have already been established, which now require implementation across all five authorities.

The Future Place programme will support the JDPU in delivering the work it has planned for the next year, including creating a Place Shaping website, a Supplementary Planning Document to assist developments and progressing the plans for the Garden Village.



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