England & Wales Communities and society, Housing and planning

Place shaping (only this time it’s locally led)


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A new LGiU project will work with our members to document and understand the return of place shaping in local government, and we want to hear from you.

A long time ago the MJ reported that “‘Place shaping’ is the phrase of 2006.”

Thirteen years later and a lot has changed. Local government and the public sector are in a very different state. But despite the crisis in public finance, the stretched resources, increasing demand and lack of strategic leadership from central government, we might be witnessing the strange rebirth of place shaping.

But rather than a top-down version of place shaping, driven by a restricted set of Whitehall priorities and small, piecemeal pots of funding, this time it is emerging from the bottom-up, in innovative new ways in local areas.

Councils around the country are taking the lead in reimagining a place shaping agenda for the 21st Century, thinking and acting creatively to spearhead physical, economic and social development, working with partners across their place. This is driven partly by necessity. Councils are struggling to make ends meet after a decade of centrally mandated funding cuts and are facing unprecedented demands on core services. New ideas and innovation are essential.

But it is also being driven locally because there just is not the leadership and capacity in central government. When central government talks about regeneration and devolution it tends to focus on small pots of funding for infrastructure development. This is clearly important, but it is local government that needs to join the dots and we are beginning to see how local leadership and imagination is sparking real revitalisation of economies and places, improving local services and energising local democracy.

So, place shaping is making a big return across the country. A new LGiU project will work with our members to document and understand this development. We want to find out how councils are using the idea of place and place shaping to rejuvenate local areas. Over the next few months I will be visiting and interviewing leaders, councillors and officers across the country to try and put together a picture of this new, reborn municipalism.

This is a callout. Please get in touch if you are doing something interesting and would like to shout about it. It could be a project to support a town centre, community wealth building, designing new housing developments around place-shaping principles, a community environmental or energy scheme, innovative partnerships with local civic institutions….it will take many forms, but I want to hear about it! Drop me a line: [email protected]


2 thoughts on “Place shaping (only this time it’s locally led)

  1. Hi Andrew. We are doing a huge amount in Cornwall linked to the place-shaping work based on our widely recognized and well developed work on localism, onward devolution and Coastal Community Funding. We already have some exciting projects in Penzance, Truro, Bodmin, St Austell and Liskeard and will be building on this in relation to both the High Street Fund (Penzance) and Town Deal Fund (Truro, St Ives , Camborne and Penzance).

    We would be more than happy to be involved in this work.



  2. Hi Andrew
    At North Somerset Council we’re involved in some new very exciting place making work linked in to our two successful bids in Weston-super-Mare for High Street Heritage Action Zones. With a focus on arts, culture, heritage and bringing a residential community back to the town centre, there are encouraging signs this work is starting to challenge and change outdated perceptions of Weston.
    We’d be very pleased to get involved with your work and extend an invitation for you and your colleagues to visit us

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