New research from an influential group of MPs and Lords has demonstrated the link between place, planning and increased productivity, and calls for placemaking to be at the heart of a revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to help close the productivity gap.
The cross-party All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Building Communities’ has stressed the importance of access to public open spaces, better infrastructure, and greater engagement and understanding of existing local communities, in Productive Placemaking, its first report.
The findings are especially important when considered through the prism of Covid-19. The emergence of a ‘new normal’ means that development models now need to be reassessed to ensure that new homes are spacious, light and airy, and that people are able to go shopping, spend time in nature or to see a doctor within a 10-15 minute walk from home.
The report praises a number of examples of recent major developments in London – Kings Cross, Stratford and Greenwich – for successfully creating a sense of space and increasing the productivity of these areas.
The report also recommended that:
- Developers should be encouraged to share best practice on community engagement;
- Financial structures should be in place to secure a productive development strategy and the longer-term management of a place;
- The ONS should recognise and develop a measurement of placemaking;
- The UK government should aim to reduce the cost of land for the creation of affordable housing;
- The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) should be replaced with a new Property Sales Levy.
Commenting on the report’s research, APPG chairman Bob Blackman, said: “We need to build a flexible and resilient post-Covid society. This means that we will need to push developers and planners to make better use of space – we will always need space for residents and their visitors to park their cars - but we need bike racks, children’s playgrounds, nature trails, outdoor gyms, community allotments, and more to provide the facilities required.”
“We have a number of great examples in this report of good design and stewardship which promotes better mental and physical health and produces positive and productive places. This is also fundamentally important to delivering community, which will be the best way to ensure our villages, towns and cities are resilient to the effects of the exceptional times we are living through, and productive in the years and decades to come.”
The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) provides the secretariat to the APPG. ACE chief executive Hannah Vickers said: “This work proves that happier and healthier places are more productive, and we look forward to supporting the APPG’s work over the coming months as we explore how to deliver similar places and communities for a post-Covid society.”