Placemaking Is Not Just for Girl Guides !

The initial research for the Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum shows that placemaking will be vital to addressing many of the key issues; so,  just what is placemaking.

Placemaking is the creation of social, connected, vital ‘places’, by and via the people who live and work in them.   It is based on principles of civil society and democracy where ‘the place’ supports people in a locality coming together to socialise, help each other and develop skills, .

Placemaking needs good design,  that honours the character, aspirations and assets of an area.  The results of placemaking are distinctive cities, towns and villages where people are comfortable, safe, and have easy access to amenities for work and home life. They are places people value and are proud of; thus the places are maintained, enhanced and adapted to changes in lifestyle.   This, in turn, improves wellbeing, grows the local economy and conserves the environment.

The process of placemaking is very different to our current, central, ‘spatial’, planning system, based on state policy.  The process of spatial planning tends to tell local people what will happen; merely asking them to express a view at ‘consultation’ stage – a view which often carries little weight, especially as there is no right of appeal against a planning decision.  Placemaking, by contrasts, means local people taking responsibility in a co-production process,  exploring issues, and generating solutions from grassroots up – this turns planners in professional facilitators and advisors.  Think of the difference between the architect who helps design your extension, and the planner who designed ‘that’ gyratory.

Enlightened Victorian entrepreneurs and philanthropists, especially non-conformists and Quakers, realised the importance of placemaking to wellbeing and prosperity; now the places they have left behind such as, Bournville in Warwickshire,  Port Sunlight in Cheshire,  and  Saltaire in Yorkshire are highly desirable place to live – some are even world heritage sites.  A twentieth century example of placemaking, also a highly desirable place to live is, Prince’s Charles’ Poundbury in Dorset.

In Rex Learmonth’s research on one of our local Aireborough entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Jonathan Peate,  who owned Nunroyd and Springhead mills (1837 – 1924), he found that a lot of Jonathan’s inspiration for his own local philanthropy was Titus Salt.  A reason for Mr Peate donating facilities such as Nunroyd Park, Yeadon, Nethermoor Park, Guiseley and Yeadon Town Hall, to the people of Aireborough.