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Placemaking and the Public Realm: Bringing it all Together

Jen Heal, Deputy Chief Executive of the Design Commission for Wales

The public realm is likely the first thing that comes to mind when many think of placemaking. A vibrant public square, a bustling high street or a fun-filled local park are just some of the images that spring to mind and are indeed some of the aims of our focus on placemaking. The public realm has many functions to perform and can be a place of delight, but it cannot be considered in isolation. All six of the Placemaking Wales Charter principles are interrelated and need to work together, but the success, or otherwise, of this manifests itself in the public realm.

Conditions to enable a positive public realm

Embedding placemaking into planning policy at the national level through Planning Policy Wales and Future Wales recognises that important decisions that will influence the success of the public realm within a town centre, neighbourhood centre or residential streets are made well in advance of the design of the space itself.

The location of development, availability of choice of movement modes and mix of uses will set the conditions in terms of levels of traffic, opportunities for walking and cycling, and amount of parking needed, all of which influence the amount of space available for public life and the quality of this space. If development is isolated, with no mix of uses and limited opportunities for public transport and active travel, more space will be needed to store and move cars around, fewer people will be out and about and the ‘life’ of the place will be impaired.

Conversely, if new development is situated close to existing facilities that people can easily access via active travel or public transport, or if new development has sufficient density to provide a mix of uses itself, then good design can manage the impact of cars on the environment, and there is potential for the streets and spaces to come alive. More people will have the opportunity to bump into and get to know others in their community, children will have more opportunities to play outside and the conditions will enable healthier movement choices.

Out of the six Charter principles, this leaves people and community and identity. These are two essential ingredients that should inform the design of the public realm to give it distinctiveness, inclusiveness and ensure it meets the needs of the community that will inhabit it.

Public realm as a forum for involvement

The latter two principles above emphasise the role of community engagement in the design of the public realm. Public realm interventions provide the space to test ideas and make changes in collaboration with the community. The prominent placemaking organisation, Project for Public Spaces, has a range of useful resources for placemaking in the public realm with easy to remember headings, such as:

  • The Power of 10 – the idea that there should be many (e.g. ten) different things for people to do in a public space[1], or
  • Lighter Quicker Cheaper – the promotion of interventions that are implemented quickly to help test ideas and demonstrate how changing a space can help to create a place[2].

It seems that the latter is something that we are not yet very good at in Wales. Whether it is because of the real or perceived barrier of rules and processes to navigate, a lack of skills in this type of engagement or risk adversity, we don’t seem to be able to implement such projects at any kind of pace or scale. Covid recovery interventions exhibited some of this energy, but that seems to have quickly faded away.

I was struck by the example of Milan’s Piazze Aperte ‘Open Squares’ initiative[3], where the city used temporary interventions as a mechanism for engagement and to test ideas before more permanent change. There was an open call to all citizens to identify spaces in the city that could be improved. They used paint to define the public space and put in street furniture to start to establish activity within the spaces and worked with local people on events within the spaces. The feedback from these temporary actions was used to shape more permanent interventions, but the impact was much more immediate: “Every time we closed a street to traffic, children popped up”[4].

An ongoing challenge

The benefits of public realm improvements are numerous, such as encouraging walking and cycling, integrating green and blue infrastructure to manage and mitigate climate change impacts, and providing comfortable, safe and pleasant places to interact with others, thus reducing social isolation. However, that doesn’t mean it is easy. Two particular challenges seem to be prevalent – the cost of maintenance and out of date approaches to highway design. The former threatens the integration of the most basic elements, such as street trees, because there aren’t sufficient budgets or resources to look after them. The latter is an ongoing issue despite a decade and a half of guidance on the subject through Manual for Streets. Neither of these challenges should be something we shy away from tackling from a national level down to each case to deliver the benefits that a good public realm provides.

The pattern of our lives seems to be increasingly individualistic. However, the public realm is still a forum for people to come together, meet and share a common experience of a place. The decisions we make every step of the way, from where we develop down to the kerb detail, will impact how successful these spaces are and how positively they can contribute to our lives.






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It’s Time for a Wilder Way of Life

Simon Richards, Director of Land Studio

Why creating a wilder network of green spaces could unlock the future of our towns and cities.

As climate change becomes an ever-increasing threat, our streets, parks and buildings must find ways to adapt and become more resilient.

Britain has a rich heritage of providing public parks and green spaces for our communities. These public spaces, alongside the changing role of our city streets, offer communities access to fresh air and provide intrinsic environmental and recreational benefits, but are they doing enough, and can their retrofitting to a wilder state significantly impact climate change?

Our network of parks, streets and public spaces should provide a vital ecological role in helping to enhance biodiversity and provide essential green and blue infrastructure for local communities and wildlife populations. By creating wilder, more natural streets and parks with a greater variety of flora and fauna, our towns and cities can help promote climate resiliency and increase the quality of life for their communities.

The benefits of implementing these significant, beneficial changes to our public realm goes beyond climate resiliency; they also aid in reducing air pollution and noise levels, filtering water runoff from impermeable surfaces, increasing physical activity, providing food sources for humans and wildlife, as well as offering a refuge for native species to thrive. With climate change already impacting our cities, we must start creating more appropriate networks of green and blue infrastructure to ensure the longevity and expansion of these beneficial ecosystems.

As the recent Arch Daily article “Why Landscape Architecture Matters Now More Than Ever” states, a more connected approach to the design of the built environment provides a pivotal role in the enhancement of public health, sustainability, biophilia, wilding and the overall enhancement of biodiversity across the globe.

There are numerous exemplar projects where this connected approach has enhanced nature and renewed communities, from the green infrastructure networks of retrofit SuDS in the streets of Sheffield and Cardiff to the recently completed Mayfield Park in Manchester and wide ranging, headline projects across the globe.

Creating these parks, streets and public spaces of the future will require even greater thinking on sustainable planning and management, going further with integrated development strategies where nature and outdoor space are vital pillars of the model. This means incorporating climate-resilient designs with fully integrated green and blue infrastructure networks; utilizing xeriscaping techniques to reduce water usage; creating habitats with diverse flora and fauna linked to extensive sustainable drainage networks, minimizing disruption from development activities; and, notably, ensuring that communities are fully engaged in the environment around them.

While these projects may be challenging to implement, the payoff regarding climate change mitigation, flood resilience, improved air and water quality, biodiversity conservation and enhanced mental health is significant.

As has been shown by the visionary work of cities already taking this approach, the towns and cities of the future will need to prioritize green infrastructure investments and effectively implement these projects. Only through careful planning and a commitment to climate resilience can we create wilder, more natural spaces that can withstand the impacts of climate change. With this effort, we can ensure our parks, streets and public spaces continue to benefit our communities for generations.


Enhancing Street Design and Placemaking: The Opportunity of 20mph Speed Limits

Jon Tricker, Placemaking Director at PJA, CIHT Member

Placemaking has gained increasing prominence in Wales as planners and designers strive to create vibrant and people-centric streets. One effective measure to achieve this vision is the introduction of the default 20mph speed limit in urban areas. Such an innovative strategic move will not only foster safer streets but also lays the foundation for better street design and higher levels of placemaking.

First and foremost, reducing the speed limit to 20mph will improve road safety. Studies consistently show that lower vehicle speeds significantly reduce the severity of accidents, making streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. By instilling a culture of responsible driving, these schemes encourage greater awareness and consideration for vulnerable road users, thereby improving overall road safety.

Moreover, a 20mph speed limit fundamentally transforms the dynamics of street design. Lower traffic speeds can reduce driver visibility requirements, creating less highway-led forms of street design. Road infrastructure can be reimagined to prioritize the needs of people walking and cycling. Wider footways, safer cycling, and enhanced crossings become feasible options, empowering individuals to embrace active travel. Such redesigns create not only visually appealing and accessible streets but also foster social interactions, thus strengthening the sense of community and civility within the neighbourhood.

Beyond road safety and street design, 20mph becoming the norm will act as a catalyst for better placemaking. Slower traffic encourages a more relaxed and enjoyable environment, attracting people to spend time outdoors. This, in turn, boosts local businesses and enables the establishment of public spaces like parks, public spaces, and community gardens. A calmer atmosphere will encourage cultural events, and more street landscaping, further enhancing the unique identity and character of established and new neighbourhoods. Grangetown, Cardiff, has achieved many of these benefits where the introduction of active travel, landscaping and SuDS have transformed the streets.

Recent examples from Cambridge highlight some areas of innovative neighbourhood street design. In Accordia, Cambridge, the wider selection of street hierarchy, such as car-free streets, play streets, and mews, along with more traditional street types, has created the conditions for a lovely new neighbourhood with low traffic speeds, successfully showing how planners and designers can prioritize pedestrian-friendly environments through good design.

Designing narrower streets with slower traffic allows for increased green spaces, pocket parks, and communal areas, fostering a sense of community and encouraging social interactions. Safe cycling on the carriageway becomes feasible, promoting sustainable mobility options. Embracing the 20mph concept enables a human-centric approach to street design, creating a harmonious and inviting living environment for residents. Although not trafficked, Marmalade Lane, also in Cambridge, showcases how streets can be reimagined as community spaces with a broad spectrum of uses.

In conclusion, introducing slower speeds in Welsh residential neighbourhoods will have far-reaching benefits beyond safety alone. By initiating a shift in traffic culture, it serves as a steppingstone for better street design, improved mobility, and elevated placemaking efforts. Embracing the concept of 20mph speed limits is a progressive step towards creating inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant neighbourhoods that prioritize their residents’ well-being and quality of life.



Streets for Schools – Creating a Culture of Travelling Actively to School

Patrick Williams, Head of Healthier Places, Sustrans Cymru

Dryden Road in Penarth has a history of traffic problems during the school run, affecting residents and the safety of children of Fairfield Primary School. A new School Street project has closed the road outside the school to motor vehicles at pick-up and drop-off times and, combined with infrastructure improvements and behaviour change, created a safer and healthier environment for everyone.

Sustrans developed the project through a co-design process, involving the local community, the 320 children attending Fairfield Primary School, their parents and their teachers. The aim was to involve all these stakeholders in a design process that would make the surrounding streets safer and encourage a culture of travelling actively to school.

Sustrans engaged at a range of levels to collect feedback from a wide range of people, including those who often don’t get a chance to voice their opinions. As not everyone feels comfortable, is able, or has the time to participate in formal workshops, the engagement was accessible and convenient as possible. Workshops were held on-street, at convenient locations, at times of day that people are likely to be passing along the street, and with quick and intuitive activities.

There was also a mixture of media and other options to engage, such as interactive digital mapping, paper surveys with conveniently placed project post boxes, a regularly updated project website, led walks, street surveys for the pupils and a summer play day.

Traffic volumes and speeds throughout the area were captured, along with artificial intelligence videos, to understand the interaction between pedestrians and vehicles outside the school.

The engagement and data identified the most significant issues were heavy traffic around peak school times, dangerous parking and manoeuvring, and a general feeling of lack of safety for people travelling to school by walking, wheeling, and cycling.

A series of improvements to the street layout of Dryden Road were then developed, including widening the pavement alongside the school and creating a planted verge or rain garden. The rain garden replaced the gullies along one side of the street, acting as a natural drainage system (SuDS), introducing greenery to the street and providing a barrier between cars and pedestrians. The interventions also include introducing a one-way system, which formalises the previously informal flow of vehicles and makes the daily street closures more straightforward.

The school street was trialled for a day before constructing the permanent changes. Temporary trialling the interventions played an important role capturing important additional feedback and finalising the proposals before construction.

The School Street opened in May 2023. Initial survey data captured following implementation have indicated a positive impact. The majority of both parents/carers and residents spoken to think that the street feels safer, more child friendly and overall, a more enjoyable place to be. The project, including the community’s views and traffic flows, will continue to be monitored and used to demonstrate the impact of the Fairfield Project on levels of active travel, changes in traffic behaviour, and community views, as well as informing future projects.


The Bridge Street Project – Using Small-Scale Interventions to Rethink Public Spaces

This article is an adapted extract of a case study from the book Jones, M. (2020). Transforming towns: Designing for smaller communities. London: RIBA Publishing.

The Bridge Street Project is part of a long-term collective re-imagining of the future of Upper Bridge Street in the medieval market town of Callan to the south of Kilkenny in Ireland. The project was developed through interdisciplinary collaboration to explore the role of the high street as a collective civic space.

Upper Bridge Street is a narrow street that was historically the town’s market street. Once bustling with pubs, groceries, drapers and bakeries, the increasing levels of traffic congestion during the twentieth century supressed this vibrancy. In the 1980s, businesses started to relocate until, by the late 1990s, the street had fallen into dereliction.

For some years, one-off arts events and residencies have been run in Callan, linked to a community festival of participation and inclusion. These events included a series of design and build summer schools to create temporary interventions in the public realm. The summer schools led to Callan’s involvement in a project exploring how children navigated through the town, with Bridge Street closed for chalk games, food, live music and a children’s disco. Around the same time, a pop-up café was opened in a disused shop front to open a conversation with the community to explore the accessibility of Bridge Street, where local people shared their stories over a cup of tea, from which emerged the idea of developing a theatre script made up of local stories.

These events led to the Bridge Street Project, which combined a theatre production, Bridge Street Will Be, and an architectural intervention, Reflected Elevation.

The Reflected Elevation project aimed to address the regeneration of the outside spaces through bottom-up community workshops. Over 50 participants gave up their evenings to join workshops to paint the facades of the buildings in a paintscape representing the various lives of the street and capturing the many changes to its buildings. Closing the street for a few hours every day formed a new public realm, created chance meetings, and allowed local people to admire the beauty of the buildings. While the closures were the main source of disruption for the wider community, they led to the engagement of residents who may not otherwise have taken part.

The theatre production focused on performance-based civic participation and engagement with the internal spaces of the street. A local theatre-maker created a script woven from local legends and oral histories. A cast of over 80 community and professional actors unfolded stories using the street and its buildings as their stage in an immersive theatre production. The audience could wander freely in and out of buildings and through the street, rediscovering this overlooked part of the town.

These hands-on events brought people together to develop a shared vision for the renewable of Bridge Street and have fed into Callan’s Local Area Plan 2019. Bridge Street has been identified as a critical area needing rejuvenating and obtained funding as part of a pilot study to encourage more people to live in rural towns.

Through an innovative and collaborative approach to engaging with local people and small-scale intervention, the projects in Callan demonstrate the value architects and designers can bring to rethink public spaces in small settlements. Through hands-on performance and making, the sequence of projects has positively transformed the town and influenced long-term thinking about the town’s future.


Architect: Studio Weave

Client: Trasna Productions
Civic Engagement Producers: Rosie Lynch, Etaoin Holahan
Commissioned by: Trasna Productions
Funders: Arts Council Kilkenny Leader Partnership
Theatre Company: Equinox Theatre Company Asylum Productions
Writer: John Morton

Photo 1: Bridge Street Will Be, performance. Photo: Neil  O’Driscoll.

Photo 2: Bridge Street Will Be, performance. Photo: Brian Cregan.


Street Markets and Pop-Ups

Ben Reynolds, Director of Urban Foundry

Our town centres’ social and commercial vitality is suffering from a perfect storm of disastrous car-oriented planning, poor public transport, weak active travel approaches, out-of-town retail, insufficient town centre residential populations, internet shopping, and an uncertain post-Covid world of hybrid working and spiralling costs. Empty shops and barren public spaces are two major symptoms of the malaise.

We need new ways of doing things and to rediscover some old ones too. The great Jane Jacobs characterised four key qualities of a ‘good town’: density, short perimeter blocks, varied buildings, and mixed-uses. I would add a fifth: quality public spaces. This article focuses on quick, fast, light, and (relatively) cheap measures that the Urban Foundry has taken to tackle two of these: mixed uses and public spaces.

Firstly, vibrant street markets are a fixture on the Continent, but something we have lost the habit of in the UK. A series of street markets have been created in Swansea Bay to activate public spaces that are otherwise car-dominated or under-utilised, creating temporary ‘people spaces’ and providing opportunities for small local artisan businesses.

Swansea Bay Street Markets social enterprise began with the award-winning Uplands Market in 2013 and now holds monthly markets across Swansea Bay at Marina, Mumbles, Port Talbot, and Pontardawe. Research by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David business school found:

  • 70% of market shoppers were only in the area for the market;
  • most spend at least £10 – £20 in local shops (in addition to spending at the market); and
  • the market improved perceptions of the area.

Secondly, PopUp Wales is bringing temporary life to empty shops, with similar impacts: improving footfall, dwell time, perceptions, and spending. Pop-up use can also make spaces more lettable in the longer term.

PopUp Wales matches temporary retail spaces with individuals, organisations, and businesses who want flexible, short-term, affordable space to trial ideas. Pilots took place in 2022 in Swansea and Bridgend, supported by their respective Councils, Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns fund, and (in Bridgend) UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund.

In Bridgend, PopUp Wales supported 30 small businesses and 20 voluntary organisations. In Swansea, 15 pop-up spaces have included civic and third-sector users, businesses, various arts projects, studio spaces, pop-up exhibitions, and installations.

Library of Things is a pop-up in Swansea run as a social enterprise to encourage borrowing to reduce the energy and resources to create rarely-used items and make expensive items affordable for more people.

Fresh Creative CIC exhibited their work in a pop-up in Swansea, which put them in front of audiences they could not normally access, and they are now seeking a longer-term city centre base as a result.

In a time of high vacancies for many towns and cities, we need as many tools as we can in the box for regeneration. Although it’s not a silver bullet, pop-up/meanwhile space has become far more prominent in the post-Covid era as a way of addressing our problems.

Why not start something up in your town?


Key Ingredients for Successful Markets and Pop-Ups

Understanding how your town or city works

Markets and pop-ups work well when we understand how and why people use space in urban areas and what will (and won’t) work where. They cannot be magically dropped in anywhere.

Buildings need to be in reasonable condition

Structurally sound and watertight buildings are needed for it to be manageable to make them useable, such as largely (basic) compliance works, simple welfare facilities, and cosmetic upgrades. It also helps if some modest capital funding is available to assist with these works – pop-up schemes are now eligible as a cost heading under the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns funding stream.

It has to be the right use for a short-term tenure

Pop-ups are not a free means of getting long-term leases. Pop-ups are short-term by nature, so plan for it being taken away again at relatively short notice, or be prepared to pay a commercial market rate for the space in the long run if you want to stay.

Some creative thinking

There is variation, and some are decidedly at the cheap and cheerful end of the spectrum, but there needs to be some creativity and thought to make spaces look good and work on low budgets and with short timescales. You need something that can be up and running quickly that will work.

There still needs to be some viability to them

Although it takes away rental costs, there are still some costs, notably utilities, perhaps staffing (though volunteers run some), business rates if applicable, and stock/marketing/insurance and similar.

Good relationship-building with landlords is essential

Pop-ups are not as well-understood in this part of the world as elsewhere. The landlord must play ball for them to be viable.

There needs to be understanding and ‘buy-in’ from the local authority

The local authority needs to ‘get’ what you are trying to achieve and to be supportive.


Re-Imagining High Streets

Alex Bugden, VUAP Project Manager, and Wendy Maden, Principal Urban Designer, Bath and North East Somerset Council

Our high streets have typically been places of the most diverse mix of uses and support a range of facilities and services that serve the wider community.  However, in recent years even these places have struggled to retain their diversity and quantum of uses. Over the past two years, Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Regeneration Team has worked with local stakeholders to deliver various projects to breathe new life into vacant shops and buildings in high streets across the district.

As part of a broader programme of high street interventions, including street furniture and greening, the Vacant Units Action Project delivers pilot projects within vacant shop properties to explore, re-imagine, and test alternative models or uses within the high street. By learning from these pilots, we wish to understand what the future of high streets could look like.

The project was launched in 2020 when vacancy rates in Bath City Centre had hit 30% on some streets. Initially, to address the cumulative impact of empty shops on the high street’s vitality, we worked with a collection of local arts groups, cultural stakeholders, landlords, and Council teams to take over the windows of vacant shops with vibrant and curious 3D art installations.

The project’s first phase included window animations, arts pilots, and immersive installations, all of which helped to understand the barriers to delivering meanwhile uses and enabled the evaluation of the impact of these initial pilots.

The second phase focused on activity designed to be a catalyst for high street regeneration, including four longer-term pilot projects across the district to develop and test ideas around future high streets:

Make Space, Keynsham: Refurbishment of a long-term empty ground floor property into a flexible and creative space offering affordable space for arts, cultural, and pop-up shop opportunities to enhance the local high street.

Made in Bath Pop-ups: Supporting local traders and makers to trial the use of high street retail space for short-term pop-ups, events, and new retail experiences, bringing online retailers, new businesses, and market traders into high street retail premises. We have hosted over thirty small local businesses and supported nine non-profit organisations through this project. 

Creative Twerton: This project is currently delivering a warm and welcoming arts space open to everyone, located in the heart of this high street. Adjacent to this meanwhile use is an artists’ residency space that builds on existing collaboration with Bath Spa University and a local arts organisation.

Unit 14, Midsomer Norton: Creating a hub for community-based and pilot activity on Midsomer Norton High Street, including community activities, a base for the high street cultural programme and Heritage Action Zone project, and a trial space for co-working, pop-ups, and other uses.

The future of high streets is an ever-evolving process. By using these hubs to accommodate a mix of activities, the projects’ success will be measured partly by whether they can create foundations to build on, expediting the change communities want to see on their high streets. It is an exciting opportunity for us to step up to the challenge.

Watch this video to find out more about the Vacant Units Action Project:


Delivering Mixed-Use Settlements

Ben Bolgar, Senior Director at The Prince’s Foundation

For over thirty years, The Prince’s Foundation has been promoting the delivery of mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable, and beautiful places over monocultural car-dependent housing estates. In all that time, however, the only really diverse and genuinely new mixed places in the UK are Poundbury in Dorchester and, hot on its heels, its bigger brother Nansledan in Cornwall.

Poundbury will be complete in five years and already has over 1,800 homes with 2,300 jobs in 310 businesses on site, with 50% of those start-ups and the majority by women. Those businesses and jobs do many positive things: they give work opportunities near homes, make it possible to get daily needs on foot, reduce car trips, build a strong sense of community, and make a vibrant, valuable community.

Poundbury, Dorchester

Nansledan is only a few hundred houses in, and already there is a vibrant section of high street emerging. The thriving high street has contributed to the house values going through the roof, meaning the place could be a victim of its own success.

Nansledan, Cornwall

So, why isn’t every landowner and developer doing it? The simple answer is that most of our new places in the UK are built by volume house builders who do what they say on the tin – build houses. Ask them to build something other than houses, and they are happy to earmark a piece of land for a school, a supermarket, and, if you’re lucky, a health centre, but their model doesn’t see value in non-residential uses, and so they simply don’t do it. Look at Sherford in Plymouth, planned by The Prince’s Foundation for 7,000 homes along similar lines to Nansledan, but now led by a consortium of volume housebuilders. With nearly a thousand houses built the only business on site is a coffee shop in a portacabin set up and owned by the residents.

It is the business model that drives this behaviour. Typically, a landowner will either be approached by a developer or appoint an agent to sell some of their land, and that agent will be incentivised by taking a percentage of the highest price they can get. Getting hold of land is so competitive that most housebuilders will overpay on the basis that they can eventually cram more houses in, dumb down the quality, and renege on commitments on affordable housing, mixed-use, and community infrastructure.

Alternatively, a landowner deploying a stewardship approach won’t sell their land outright but instead employ a consortium of SME builders to build out the site in partnership, putting in the community infrastructure as they go. For the smaller units, which are below business rates and therefore more affordable, the builder might keep them in their pension pots and expect a healthy return on their investment not just in terms of income but as an asset accruing in value over time. These spaces attract local entrepreneurs and makers with a passion who can afford to do what they love, making an interesting and diverse place. These local businesses add value to the housing, as people want to live there. That is why Poundbury contributes £100 million GVA annually, and Nansledan could sell double the number of houses it is building.

We need more landowners to follow the stewardship model and planners and councillors to ask for a better way of building.


Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life

Book Review by Max Hampton, Design Advisor at the Design Commission for Wales

The Placemaking Charter promotes places with a mix of uses and population density to support their social and economic life. Medium-density and mixed-use buildings are characteristic of traditional European towns and cities. Yet, this fine-grain, medium-rise building form, described as the ‘missing middle,’ is unusual in new development in the UK. David Sim, a Scottish architect based in Scandinavia, shows in Soft City how to design densely built environments at a human scale.

The Missing Middle (Sim/Island Press)

Soft City’s premise is that increasing the density of our towns and cities can help address the global challenges of climate change, congestion, and urbanisation. Increasing development density has a bad reputation in the UK and is associated with high-rise towers, small flats, and overcrowding. Sim acknowledges that greater density alone is not the answer, but when you add a diversity of building types and uses in the same place, you create the true urban quality of European towns and cities.

Aarhus, Denmark (Sim/Island Press)

The thesis of Soft City is Density x Diversity = Proximity. The idea is that the fusion of density and diversity increases the possibility of useful things, places, and people being closer to you. The book shows how potentially conflicting aspects of everyday existence can be brought together and connected to deliver better quality of life.

Soft City illustrates how the traditional urban building pattern of enclosed blocks, with independent, joined-up, and layered buildings, can accommodate density and diversity of uses while maintaining the human scale. Sim shows why this urban form, with its simple rules, has helped create some of the world’s most liveable towns and cities. Medium-rise blocks can combine the comfort and security of suburban living with the convenience and accessibility of urban life.

The Enclosed Block (Sim/Island Press)

The book includes examples from Scandinavia, the rest of Europe, Japan, the United States and Australia. I was interested to read how Melbourne uses clear and simple rules to enable denser, mixed-use development along and around existing public transport. This policy allows the city to accommodate population growth without expanding outwards and evolving over time, with densification taking place plot by plot.

Melbourne – Increasing density around existing infrastructure (Sim/Island Press)

There are good examples from Germany and Sweden of larger sites masterplanned by the local authority and subdivided into small plots. Different developers, with various architects, develop each plot. The result is a diverse mix of housing types and land uses in lively neighbourhoods with a strong sense of identity and community.

Vauban, Freiburg (Sim/Island Press)

Sim is not trying to ‘Scandify’ the world and recognises different countries have different people and cultures, climates and landscapes, politics and planning systems. However, he identifies we are all facing similar challenges that the urban design principles in this book can help solve.

I recommend Soft City to anyone interested in how dense and mixed-use developments can create sustainable and resilient communities with healthier and happier people. This beautifully illustrated book is full of ideas and examples that can support placemaking in Wales.

News Press & Comment Press Releases

Jen Heal Appointed Deputy Chief Executive

1st April 2023


 Design Advisor Jen Heal has been confirmed as the Deputy Chief Executive of the Design Commission for Wales.

A Chartered Town Planner with a background in planning and urban design in private and public sector practice, Jen first joined the Design Commission in 2014, devising and leading much of its training and client support programmes and co-chairing its national Design Review Service.  During her time at the Design Commission Jen has also served as a Commissioner for the South East Wales Transport Commission. She now leads the placemaking agenda for the Design Commission, advising on policy, supporting practice and leading the development of the Placemaking Wales Charter and guidance.

With significant professional experience in the private sector, Jen studied City & Regional Planning, has an MA in Urban Design from Cardiff University and is a fully accredited member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI).  In her previous roles, Jen led a diverse range of urban design, planning and regeneration projects for public, private and third sector clients; delivered design concepts, town centre strategies, environmental improvement schemes and complex planning applications as well as developing engagement and training programmes.

Commenting on the promotion, Chief Executive Carole-Anne Davies said: “Jen is an outstanding professional and valued colleague. She is a talented placemaking specialist and a passionate advocate for the importance of good design. Jen has the leadership capability required for this role and has long demonstrated her ability to engage with and support colleagues across sectors, in local authorities and the Welsh Government.

“Jen is particularly adept at equipping others with the knowledge and understanding of how to create better mixed-use communities with a sense of place in the context of change for existing settlements or new development. I am pleased to confirm Jen’s promotion as we come to the end of events which mark our 20th Anniversary and move forward to further accelerating positive change and creating the conditions for everyday excellence in design in the context of climate and nature emergencies. I’m delighted to have her by my side and I know she will thrive in the role and continue to strengthen our skilled and agile team. ”

Jen Heal said: “The value of design to Wales and the UK should not be underestimated. It is a major economic driver and enabler of social value, particularly as we work towards net zero. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to step-up and continue with the excellent work that we deliver as a team. It’s making a difference to communities the length and breadth of Wales and I’m proud of all that we do.”

As an expert body, the Design Commission for Wales was established by the National Assembly for Wales in 2002 to promote good design. With a remit spanning the whole of the built environment in Wales, the expert, multi-disciplinary team works with local planning authorities, investors, developers, communities and commissioning clients across Wales to capture the value of high quality design.


Placemaking and the Value of Location – Dr Roisin Wilmott

Dr Roisin Wilmott, Director of RTPI Cymru.

We’re all familiar with the maxim ‘location, location, location’, but do we think about it beyond property and its value?  As planners we take the approach of the right building in the right location, the latter being paramount.

The right location is a big part of the answer to tackling the multiple short and long term challenges we all face, not just here in Wales but globally too, including the climate and biodiversity emergencies, the energy crisis, the cost of living crisis and the endemic problem of poverty.  The right location also affects the costs of running public services.  In many ways these are all interlinked issues. If we get the location right, we can go a long way to help mitigate and / or prevent the negative impacts. Importantly, we must avoid locking in future carbon commitments for generations to come through the location decisions we take now.

Location is captured by the popular 15 / 20 minute city concept, also referred to as the ‘walkable neighbourhood’.  This concept means that the services we need most days or every day can be reached either by walking or cycling (i.e. under our own steam) in a practical time. Through this we get some exercise, we are more likely to meet neighbours (developing community cohesion), reduce crime through increased surveillance and knowing our community, reduce pollution through less traffic, support local businesses and facilities, reduce the cost of travel and address travel-poverty.  Making room for quality green space in built areas also brings health and biodiversity benefits and if street furniture, particularly seating, is provided this improves the inclusivity of the area for wider groups including older people, or those with dementia and other conditions.

As well as increasing the focus on active travel, integrating public transport into developments must also be considered, to enable access to a choice of wider services and employment opportunities in a more sustainable and equitable manner.

We can build the most sustainable building but if it is not sited in the right location, it can instead be inherently unsustainable; we should not hide behind just one aspect but consider the whole project.  There are of course times when a house in the open countryside is in the right location and should be supported e.g. those supporting rural industries.

The ‘development plan’ is the primary vehicle for setting out location policy in Wales.  Set out in legislation, the development plan in Wales comprises Local Development Plans (LDPs) which are familiar to many, Strategic Development Plans (SDPs) were introduced by the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 but have not yet emerged, and Future Wales: the national plan 2040 (referred to in legislation as the National Development Framework).  These are aimed at setting the direction for development, including location, at different spatial levels: local, regional and national respectively.  These plans carry a great deal of responsibility in setting the framework for decisions on the location of development which genuinely meets the current and long term needs of Wales.


‘Location’, Townscape and Placemaking – Professor Wayne Forster

(Above illustration by Proctor Matthews from their publication ‘Identity and place – where do houses live’?)

Wayne Forster, Professor of Architecture and Deputy Head of School at the WSA.

Back in 1974 Gordon Cullen and David Gosling published their design for Maryculter, a new settlement located to the south west of Aberdeen within a natural amphitheatre of open rolling landscape, grazing land and gorse cover protected by pine forests and shelter belts. The design creates an unfolding townscape of residential and mixed-use villages – the Wynds, the Kaleyards, Burnside and Blaikiewell. The design for Kaleyards drew inspiration from the historic walled enclosures of the Shetland Islands which provide shelter and protection to crops grown under extreme conditions. In response clusters of new homes were proposed forming sheltered neighbourhood spaces at their heart, with houses orientated to shoulder the prevailing wind – a unique configuration designed to ‘produce a sense of identity and belonging’.[1]

In the design report Cullen observed: “People live in houses, but where do houses live? If they are homeless, then all we are left with is the typical endless, featureless suburbia“.

Could a return to the core principles of Townscape reinforce ways of placemaking and produce tangible results?

Reference to the work of the English architects and urban designers Proctor Matthews suggests the answer is a resounding yes. Both Stephen Proctor and Andrew Matthews can claim a direct lineage to Cullen through their tutor at Sheffield, David Gosling who worked with Cullen and wrote the only monograph. . In a recent presentation of their work to the Welsh School of Architecture given by Stephen Proctor the Cullen idea of ‘the place of houses’ is consistently framed within Cullen’s ideas and underlines the influence of Cullen on their work in particular the emphasis on establishing significant contemporary placemaking on schemes in England, Scotland and Ireland.

In 1974 Gordon Cullen and David Gosling published their design for Maryculter, a new settlement located to the south west of Aberdeen. Most new residential developments – both regeneration projects within towns and cities and those on the periphery of established urban centres – fail to establish a sense of place or a strong and coherent identity.

In his presentation Proctor explained that a primary and starting principle is to establish a bold coherent narrative of place: anchoring new developments in their immediate and wider, historical, social, cultural and physical contexts – the distillation of place. This narrative is always visual invariably established and represented through drawings sometimes in the form of diagrams and cartoons a la Cullen .

These principles for placemaking appear to be more designerly than the more process led ones set out in the DCFW government guide to placemaking .[2]

All this echoes Gordon Cullen from way back in 1955, Nairn’s collaborator in that series of Outrage articles from the architectural review and author of and master of townscape elevates the importance of visual planning and product over process. Cullen turned to what he called ‘the faculty of sight ‘, ‘for it is almost entirely through vision that the environment is apprehended’. [3]

In the introduction to Townscape Cullen urged that we have to rid ourselves of the thought that the excitement and drama that we seek can be born out of the scientific research and that we must turn to other values and other standards. Cullen turned to what he called ‘the faculty of sight ‘, for it is almost entirely through vision that the environment is apprehended. [4] This is followed by the establishment of a clear definition of neighbourhood boundaries and thresholds and the development of a clear spatial hierarchy of parks, streets,squares, lanes and mews.

This is all treated very seriously throughout the Proctor Matthews practice and takes time, curiosity, wisdom, imagination and is beautifully drawn out, to the degree that these early drawings, cartoons and other visuals are the ones that clients and developers constantly refer to in favour of more scenographic ‘finished’ CGi’s.



[1] Proctor & Matthews identity and place: where do

Architects houses live?

[2] Design Commisssion for Wales  Placemaking Guide 2020 p6

[3] Ian Nairn and others Architectural Review June 1955

[4] Gordon Cullen The Concise Townscape 1971 p8


Placemaking and Rural Connectivity – moving people to places

Transport for Wales

Wales has many rural communities and some challenging geography which, along with budgetary constraints, has resulted in a reduction in bus services over the years, and increased reliance on cars to enable people to get to work, education, health appointments and all the other things that we must do in our daily lives.

Transport for Wales is working to improve transport solutions for rural areas in partnership with local and regional transport authorities as part of the Welsh Government’s wider bus transformation plans across the country.  This includes revising timetables, changing routes, improving connectivity, increasing frequencies, and simplifying fares and ticketing. We are at the beginning of a journey which will take some time to reach all areas of Wales.

A new type of service introduced in rural (and some urban) areas has been fflecsi, the demand responsive transport (DRT) service which now operates in 11 zones across Wales providing increased access to public transport in areas where services have been complex, limited access and had falling passenger numbers, or, in some cases, had not existed.  DRT is bookable public transport, which doesn’t run to a fixed route or timetable but is booked by passengers via an app or by phone, and aggregates those with similar journeys.

Each service is run according to the local requirements, for example in Conwy in North Wales the service runs from 6.30am to enable local hospitality workers to get into Betws-y-Coed in time for their 7.00am shift.  This same service also collects a group of ladies from surrounding villages every Tuesday – giving them time to catch up on the bus journey and helping combat social exclusion. In Pembrokeshire and on the Llyn Peninsula the service is popular with local residents, holidaymakers and walkers who use fflecsi when walking the Coastal Path.

Fflecsi is a bookable service, currently providing more than 25,000 rides per month. Passengers can book on the fflecsi app or by phone and TfW are also introducing third party booking in some locations to enable people to book the service if they don’t have access to a phone.  It is a different way of delivering a bus service that forms part of the overall public transport provision here in Wales, however despite the technology involved, it still the interaction with the driver that can make the service a success especially in the rural areas.

Fflecsi needs not necessarily be a bus, it could be a car or other vehicle, the technology provides lots of great data to enable better analysis of the service, identification of hotspots, potential for changes in operating hours to better serve customers and can even change the parameters for walking distance where there might be difficulties in access due to steep hills.

Fflecsi can link up to other local and regional bus services including the Traws Cymru routes, and link to trains, active travel and other forms of transport – it is part of the vision to improve access to services across the country and to drive behaviour change with the ultimate aim of having one network, one timetable and one ticket as outlined in the Welsh Government’s Bus Cymru plan.


Placemaking, Net Zero and Liveable Neighbourhoods

Jon Tricker, Placemaking Director PJA

In response to the urgent needs of climate change, the transport planning industry is developing new approaches for planning and implementing net zero carbon transport and placemaking solutions in new development and in existing neighbourhoods.

This thinking aligns with the Welsh Transport Strategy (2021) and associated modal strategies such as the Active Travel Act.  Together these moves, along with the general direction set out at COP26 define a carbon reduction journey to 2050, setting out how new green industries will influence the transport sector through hyper-localisation allowing more walking and cycling, and for longer trips, taking the bus or train more and increasingly driving electric vehicles.

Many practitioners are now adopting approaches, which draw on three main principles – Avoid, Shift and Improve.

Avoiding travel can be applied in new and existing places, and can be summarised as internalisation for new stand-alone development, and localisation for existing places and brown field development.

Shifting means more walking, cycling and micro mobility in local neighbourhoods and urban centres, and public transport remaining the mode of choice for medium and long journeys.

Improving is partly about the car or future forms of private transport, which are likely to remain popular, and driving electric cars in outer areas and for some inter-urban journeys will remain important.  However, other benefits can be realised with integration with new travel hubs at city gateways allowing transfer from electric cars to bus rapid transit or rail, so that cities can benefit from de-trafficked core areas.

For new development this means looking at house design and more adaptive approaches to parking.  For the local area, it about embedding more sustainable urban structure and mix of development to provide the services residents require within a short journey of their home, internalising many trips, and managing external private car trips, particularly at peak times and to key destinations where congestion is likely.  These ideas come together in the form of Liveable Neighbourhood principles where active travel solutions are combined with greening of urban realm to create better streets and more liveable neighbourhoods. These ideas may also be combined with new thinking in Mobility Hubs which bring together several transport facilities in a central neighbourhood location.

For existing places, this means optimising land use, retrofitting of walking and cycling infrastructure into local places and managing integration with public transport and the transition to fully electric vehicle fleets. This is not solely a transport solution, but requires buy in from local authorities and businesses to allow services and amenities to be located/relocated to serve a more localised trip pattern for day to day needs, thus helping to create genuine 10-minute neighbourhoods.

Bringing transport planning together with placemaking has never been so important and is demonstrated in many recent and emerging schemes, such as the Greener Grangetown Cardiff project which brings together SuDS, green infrastructure and walking and cycling improvements.  The success at Grangetown sets an important benchmark for neighbourhood improvement in the coming years.


Movement and Placemaking

Matt Thomas, Vectos

The rigid UK planning policy of the 20th century, based on the paradigm of “Predict and Provide”, has had a major influence on the shape and nature of our developments and communities.  That was to design infrastructure and our settlements purely for sufficient traffic capacity to meet demand during peak hours.

This peak hour traffic only represents 25% of the overall capacity of the infrastructure which requires substantially less capacity outside of peak periods.  This pessimistic and heavily weighted pro car approach, which ensures the convenience of the motorist during the peak hour, has shaped our society and disappointingly often, little or no thought or consideration is given to alternative modes or changes in technology.

If we are to reverse this traditionally long held view, we need to adopt a new approach to our thinking about mobility. Thankfully, there is a new approach that is being championed by forward thinking transport planners.  Instead of immediately looking to calculate a scenario of the worst car-based impact of the development and then attempting to mitigate by design.  The new approach is to concentrate all effort on what type of development are we looking to create an exciting and vibrant environment where people will want to live, work and play. This approach is being called “Vision and Validate”.

The provision of transport infrastructure, to support the “vision”, is of course necessary, but it should be based upon a hierarchy of movement. Walking and cycling and the creation of infrastructure to support them must be the priority backed up by public transport provision which is given priority over the motor car. Thought should also be given to how the demand for movement is changing in an increasingly technical and virtual world. It may be that highway infrastructure is replaced by digital infrastructure. The Covid pandemic has significantly transformed most people’s everyday lives, in terms of travel to work or online shopping or online learning.  We no longer need to put on a suit, or commute for an hour to an office 5 days per week. The barriers to mobility are being reduced and individuals are increasingly able to decide where and how they wish to live and to place greater emphasis on quality spaces, neighbourhood and local facilities. The design of housing layouts and the specification of individual properties is evolving to reflect changing working patterns, with provision for home working space, superfast broadband and other connectivity, bike storage and electrical home charging facilities are all being considered in the modern home.

A balance in the mix of land uses, supported by safe and attractive walking and cycling networks that connect to nearby local facilities is fundamental in bringing about the step change in people’s mindsets regarding where they can live, work and play. This approach is supported by legislation such as the Welsh Government policy on Active Travel (Wales) 2013, the Well Being of Future Generations (Wales ) 2015 Act and more recently Planning Policy Wales (2021 ). However, now is the time to act.  Time is of the essence.

The concept of a 15-minute town, or city is not new, but it is now essential to achieve our objective of creating attractive and desirable spaces in which to live, whilst at the same time, reducing our carbon footprint.

Other simple initiatives such as car clubs, help break the chain between car ownership and car use and can help increase density, when land for development is at a premium, by facilitating lower car parking ratios.

Mobility hubs, at varying degrees of scale, provide a choice of mobility options including:

  • Cycle hire
  • Ebikes
  • Bike doctor,
  • Scooter hire,
  • Public transport nodes,
  • Community concierge,
  • Amazon lockers.

Wherever possible, Mobility Hubs should also include ‘The Third Place’ i.e., somewhere to work remotely and maybe grab a coffee and all of this can be incorporated into a local centre for example.

The other significant challenge facing society is that of climate change, if the climate change challenges are to be met there is a need for substantial and wholesale changes to the way we currently live. Transport emissions represent around 25% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and a target of a 90% reduction in transport related greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 has been set by the EU. Small changes in our infrastructure design and the adoption of a new approach to placemaking will not alone achieve this ambitious target.

The Vision and Validate approach leading to more sustainable communities has therefore never been so important.  There are two major factors that influence the level of carbon emission for transport, particularly the motor car, and they are the distance travelled and the amount of carbon emitted per unit distance.

The first consideration should always be – do I really need to make this trip? Is there another way of achieving what needs to be done? If the trip cannot be undertaken by a non-polluting mode, then the next consideration is how the vehicle is powered   – could there be a switch to a more efficient fuel or electricity?

The key challenge of achieving significant reductions in transport related carbon can be assisted by aligning the transport planning and regional planning systems to ensure that development occurs in areas which are capable of facilitating the Sustainable Accessibility and Mobility Framework and which are 15-minute neighbourhoods providing convenient and cost-effective travel choice and a mix of local amenities.

It is only by such measures that we can break the habit of unconsciously and automatically reaching for the car keys.


Just a bit of chalk? Placemaking and readdressing the transport hierarchy.

Patrick Williams, Sustrans.

Llwybr Newydd (2021) outlines a vision of a Wales travelling more sustainably, with modal shift to encourage higher levels of walking and cycling, at the heart of the document. This is a significant commitment that will require a change in approach to how we develop transport proposals and more broadly, how we consider our streets in general.

Road safety figures paint a picture of inequity, with some of the most vulnerable in society, such as the young, being particularly prejudiced. In 2015, 40% of accidents involving children, happened during the school run. In response, we have taken to protecting our children by ferrying them back and forth in cars and thus reinforcing the dominance of motor vehicles on our streets. For a considerable number of years, Sustrans have worked within the schools setting, exploring approaches that engage communities and aim to address some of these inequities.

In September 2019, following a co-design process involving students, parents and local residents at St Davis’s R C Primary School in Newport, Sustrans trialled a number of interventions using colourful, planted water filled modules (Street Kit) and chalk. Workshops with the school and local residents had identified that congestion at school drop off and pick up times had resulted in a number of specific issues including; parents and children being forced onto narrow pavements and lack of crossings.

As part of the development process, Artificial Intelligence (AI) cameras had been used to capture a number of behaviours within the street, including traffic speeds and volumes, crossing behaviour, desire lines and interactions such as yield rates on the road in front of the school.

The street outside the school was closed to vehicles during an afternoon and with the help of the school and local residents, areas of the carriageway around the school were reclaimed using water filled planters and a new crossing was created using chalk markings. The road was reopened and the interventions were left in place for a number of days. AI cameras were used to record changes in behaviour.

The results threw up some interesting findings. The number of cars slowing or stopping (yielding) to allow parents and children to cross at the new chalked crossing location increased by 63% during the days monitored. More striking however, was the change in traffic speeds witnessed following the trial, with speeds reducing by around a third from that prior to the installation.

The results of this trial perhaps don’t hold up against rigorous scrutiny, for example, how would behaviours revert over time? However, demonstrating that using materials such as chalk to ‘tweak’ the sense of place and change behaviours, merits some exploration.

Sustrans have now carried out a number of research projects considering and measuring the impact of light touch and similar Tactical Urbanism type interventions. The findings of these projects have evidenced a range of outcomes, including the reduced impact of vehicles, and pedestrian behaviours that indicate higher levels of empowerment with their streets. So the question is, ‘what roles can a piece of chalk have in changing our public realm for the better’?


Discussion Piece – Designing for the Transport Hierarchy

This is a discussion piece, providing ideas and prompts which we would like to hear your feedback on.

This edition of the newsletter focuses on the Placemaking Wales Charter principle of ‘Movement’, which is defined in the Charter as follows: ‘Walking, cycling and public transport are prioritised to provide a choice of transport modes and avoid dependence on private vehicles. Well designed and safe active travel routes connect to the wider active travel and public transport network, and public transport stations and stops are positively integrated.’ Designing for movement also touches on the ‘Public Realm’ principle, which is defined in the Charter as follows: ‘Streets and public spaces are well-defined, welcoming, safe and inclusive with a distinct identity. They are designed to be robust and adaptable with landscape, green infrastructure and sustainable drainage well-integrated. They are well connected to existing places and promote opportunities for social interaction and a range of activities for all people.’

Walking, cycling and public transport are prioritised in Llwybr Newydd, the Wales Transport Strategy, which sets out a Sustainable Transport Hierarchy. This hierarchy contains, in order of priority: Walking and Cycling, Public Transport, Ultra-low Emissions Vehicles, and then Other Private Motor Vehicles. The hierarchy is also embedded in Planning Policy Wales 11 (PPW11) which states that ‘it is Welsh Government policy to require the use of a sustainable transport hierarchy in relation to new development, which prioritises walking, cycling and public transport ahead of the private motor vehicles’.

But how would the design of streets and spaces need to be approached differently if this hierarchy was to be truly reflected in all new developments, and what would our streets and spaces look like?



If pedestrians and cyclists were prioritised, new developments would consider, at the site selection stage, whether likely active travel routes to local schools (both primary and secondary, and Welsh-medium, dual-stream and English-medium), local nurseries, local village centres, and local shops, pubs and restaurants can be accessed, and used safely. Likely active travel routes would have safe pavements and cycling routes, and this would be prioritised, in order to reduce dependence on cars from the outset.

Pavements would prioritise making pedestrians feel safe, in relation to motor vehicles, cyclists, other people, and crime. Pavements would prioritise pedestrian comfort – pavements would have passing space for two wheelchairs, and, in appropriate areas, they would allow enough room for cafes and restaurants to have adequate outdoor dining space without negatively impacting the amount of space given to pedestrians.

At signalised junctions pedestrians would be prioritised by reducing wait times, along with cyclists and buses.

Continuous pavements across side streets would be designed into new development as standard and retrofitted in existing places.

Streets would have frequent crossing points for pedestrians to cross safely.

If pedestrians safety and comfort are to be prioritised, where appropriate streets would incorporate street furniture and greenery, as green streets feel cooler on hot days, and provide visual interest and a connection to the changing seasons. Pavements would be regularly cleaned and maintained, with regular refuse collection, and pavements would contain clean and well-maintained seating and rest areas at regular intervals.



Cycle paths would be connected, cohesive, and clearly marked out. Junctions would prioritise cyclists, pedestrians and buses, and cycle paths would be the easiest way to get from A to B, where possible. This would mean rerouting cycle paths to be the most direct routes.

Creating pleasant routes would be considered at the earliest design stage of new developments. This could include street trees near the cycle routes in order to keep cycle routes cooler on hot days, or easily accessible and clearly marked facilities including WCs and water refill stations alongside cycle routes.

Cycle paths would be direct, and maps of the cycle network would be readily available on the internet.

Cycle paths would allow enough room for comfortable turns. Barriers would be spaced with enough distance from one another for cyclists to be able to comfortably cycle between them. Like pavements, cycle routes would be clean and well maintained, without litter. They would also feel safe, both from motor vehicles, and perceived safety around crime.


Public Transport

Public transport would be one of the easiest ways to access and get across towns and cities, with regular and direct services. The challenges to delivering this are systemic, and relate to wider transport planning and funding, but in order for places in Wales would be well-connected via bus, train, or tram, these issues would need to be addressed.

Longer bus stops could aid with faster passenger boarding.

If the transport hierarchy was followed, new developments would coordinated with local bus and other public transport companies to ensure a frequent service to the development is in place prior to the first people moving into the site, in order for bus and public transport usage to become an ingrained part of living in the development.

In urban areas, existing bus infrastructure would be improved in order for cross-city bus services to more closely resemble car driving times. This could be aided by junctions and traffic signals prioritising buses over private motor vehicles. Banning cars or reducing the number of car lanes from key roads could also make bus journeys quicker for bus passengers.


Ultra-low emissions vehicles

The necessary infrastructure for charging and maintaining these vehicles would be designed in at the outset. If electric vehicle ownership is to drastically increase over the next few years, the existing power infrastructure in certain areas may not currently be equipped to deal with the level of demand of charging the vehicles, therefore it is important that this capacity for vehicle charging is designed in at the outset.

EV charging would be easier, cheaper, and more convenient than refuelling a fossil fuel car, in order to encourage modal shift, regardless of where you live.


Other Private Motor Vehicles

Car sharing, of both ultra-low emissions vehicles and other private motor vehicles, would be designed into and become an inherent part of the business plan for new developments.

Private vehicles would be accommodated to provide choice and provision for those who need it, but speed limits in built-up areas could be reduced to the average walking speed. Places would be easily accessible by safe footpaths, cycle routes and public transport so that not everybody needs a car and therefore Cars would not dominate the design of places.



What changes have you implemented to address the sustainable transport hierarchy?

Are there any case studies that you think have been particularly successful in implementing strategies that prioritise pedestrians and cyclists?

What barriers are in place that stop us from being able to design following the transport hierarchy?

Please let us know by tweeting @designcfw or emailing us


Case Study: Maindee Triangle, Newport

Ruth Essex, of Maindee Unlimited, tells us the placemaking story behind the development in Maindee, Newport


Location: The Triangle, Chepstow Road, Maindee, Newport

Local Authority: Newport City Council

Client: Maindee Unlimited

Design team: KHBT Ltd

Date of completion: June 2022 TBC

Contract value: £300K

Site area: 102 m sq

Funding source:        Welsh Government, National Lottery, Newport City Council, Natural Resources Wales


The Challenge

The Triangle started with a challenge: how could the community of Maindee, an inner-city neighbourhood in Newport, reopen and maintain essential public toilet services?

The closure of these toilets in 2017 had been a huge blow for shoppers and traders in the local shopping centre, and to people living nearby. It deepened inequality – disadvantaging the people who rely on public toilets – those of us with disabilities, those of us with bowel and bladder conditions, those of us without a home, and those of us who are elderly or have young children – we could all be affected.

The loss of the toilets was leading to anti-social behaviour around the building.

The Maindee Triangle development essentially began as a response to the simple need to retain a public toilet, but grew into a larger asset-transfer, renovation and landscaping project.

The development is still live and due to be opened in June 2022.


People and Community

This Case Study will focus on how the local community has been involved in the evolution of the site.

Mainee Unlimited is a charity that was set up by local residents and organisations in the Maindee area following the reopening of the local library in 2015. Exploring the potential of the site together as a community and the need for active public engagement is central to the ethos of the charity.

The toilet block, and the surrounding public space sit opposite the library, and were both in obvious need of investment and improvement. In an area starved of greenery and public open space, it was a rare opportunity to increase amenity and improve well-being.

The project gained momentum through funding and support from the Arts Council Wales scheme Ideas: People: Places. This funding enabled a creative process – encouraging people to understand the site and reimagine its future.

The funding also enabled Maindee Unlimited to begin to work with KHBT architects to further develop design ideas. Their design process focused on an archaeological approach – excavating the story of the site and valuing its components.

The role of creativity was key in re-engaging local people with a site which had suffered long-term degeneration and was impacted by deep set negative perceptions associated with street drinking and drug taking. Artists were commissioned to create events and projects on the site, in order to develop positive associations, new memories of the space and expand the perception of what is possible.

One of these events was ‘Inviting the Neighbours to Paint’ curated by performers Mr and Mrs Clarke. The space was turned into an outdoor community art room for a week, and photographer Dafydd Williams turned a toilet cubicle into a camera obscura and took portraits of local residents in the garden. A range of community events took place in the Triangle to test uses such as an outdoor market.

Maindee Unlimited also hosted a community seminar ‘Toilets, Public Space and Social Justice’. This was an opportunity for local residents and agencies to meet and discuss with world leading public toilet experts and academics such as Clara Greed from the University of the West of England, Jo-Anne Bichard from Royal Society of the Arts and Charles Musselwhite of Swansea University. This provided the space for learning and debate, and to consider the politics of public space. It also provided information regarding the implications of communities having to run public facilities like public toilets.

These activities alongside the design work of KHBT galvanised imagination and momentum which eventually led to an asset transfer of the site from Newport City Council to Maindee Unlimited on a 99 year lease.

Funding was secured from the Welsh Government and the National Lottery in order to create a fully renovated and landscaped community café, community garden and public toilet.

Throughout the development phase, a project manager was contracted in order to maintain the public engagement, including facilitating events and actions.

Plywood hoarding, used as a site boundary, was turned into an art wall and community notice board in order to engage the local community. An event was held which turned the street adjacent to the site into a play street, following the principles of Playing Out, and supported by Play Wales.

Additionally, the tender brief and selection process for a café operator prioritised the role of the café in actively engaging the local community – including a desire to collaborate on future play streets events to periodically extend to the public garden into the street.

In the future, Greening Maindee, the community gardening group, hopes to involve local people in the planting of the garden, with the view that gradually local residents will become increasingly involved in the day to day running of the green space.

The Triangle will be opening in summer 2022, after a long period of development.

It has been initiated by, driven by, and co-designed by members of the local community, and is controlled by a community organisation. This has required a huge effort from volunteers and trustees of Maindee Unlimited.



Placemaking, Communities and Nature

Natural Resources Wales

Nature & Us is a year-long project to involve the people of Wales in a national conversation about the future of our natural environment. The project, hosted by NRW, is supported by Welsh Government, and the Future Generations Commissioner, and the results will be available for the whole of Wales.

The aim is to develop a shared vision for the natural environment in 2030, 2050, and the pathways needed to get there – in particular, considering the way our actions impact on the natural environment, how society’s relationship with nature needs to change, and to collate views on what we all need to do now, and over the next 30 years.

The project launched in February and uses online engagement tools to encourage people to share their views for example, by completing surveys, joining interactive webinars, attending workshops and taking part in discussion groups. There are resources for groups to download so that they can host their own conversation with their friends or community networks. Two writers in residence have been commissioned to capture the emotive side of the conversation through poetry and prose.

Once the initial involvement period closes at the end of April, the views gathered will be analysed through a collaborative process – working across sectors to identify common themes, shared values, and more contested issues. NRW is keen to use deliberative processes to better understand the beliefs and motivations that sit behind the issues that people have raised. The draft vision will then be drawn together through a deliberative process.

Landscape has always played a key role in deliberative processes about places and place-making. One of the questions we pose is “What future do you want for our natural environment?” It will be interesting to see how many people respond by describing landscape features, and the physical environment around them.

People can articulate the characteristics of landscape that are special to them, without always knowing the socio-economic processes that enable that landscape to be maintained, or that shape landscape change over the years. We like the patchwork of fields. We feel connected to the mountains. We love the escapism of the bleak moorland. The challenge for Nature and Us is to move beyond the scenery and to make the connections with the everyday – the food we buy and eat, the way we travel, our general consumption of energy and goods.

To do this Nature and Us uses future scenarios in its workshop and webinar sessions. Building on and updating the National Ecosystem Assessment work – this is a great way to show how the choices we make today could have very different outcomes on our future landscape, our natural environment and also the way we live. Those choices are not necessarily in the hands of government and government bodies alone – society has a massive role to play in tackling the nature and climate emergencies.

The hope for the Vision itself is that it becomes a dynamic, long-term reminder of what we all want to achieve working together, and whether we are on course to achieve it. It has the potential to lay the foundations for future policy making for environmental, economic, social and cultural well-being. The national conversation that sits behind it will continue long after the survey closes. And that is the real point of this – that by extending our reach we collectively understand the implications of the climate and nature emergencies and how our response to it may affect different communities in different ways. Nature and Us will create a platform that helps us all take joint action, learn and adapt.

To take part in the national conversation go to:


Placemaking, Communities and the Planning Process

James Davies, Chief Executive at Planning Aid Wales.

As an organisation dedicated to community involvement in the planning process, Planning Aid Wales wholeheartedly welcomed People and Community as one of the six pillars of the Placemaking Charter. For us, working with rather than for communities is key.

Whilst straightforward, delivering meaningful community involvement is not always easy.  In planning, community consultation and engagement is delivered as a statutory requirement, but the views of local communities (even when relevant) can be eclipsed by the competing priorities of different actors responsible for managing and delivering development. Community involvement takes time, and time and resources are increasingly limited.

Some of the key challenges we encounter include:

Awareness. Planners often hear from people who have a lot to say, but the vast majority (including the hard to reach) say nothing at all. Many are unaware or underestimate the importance of the Local Development Plan (LDP), which when adopted, informs all subsequent planning application decisions.

Apathy. Even where people are aware, there is disillusionment and in some cases distrust in the planning process. This has been created in some instances by a negative feedback loop, where past experiences sour future involvement.

Over-emphasis on process, particularly when it comes to involvement activity itself. Methods used are few, feedback to participants is often limited, and measures of success (if evaluated) often focus on reach rather than quality or outcome.

One element of the planning process that can overcome these challenges is the production of Place Plans. Place Plans are documents produced by communities that can be adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance (that is, supplementary to the LDP) and can influence planning application decisions thereafter.

Planning Aid Wales has worked with communities where the production of a Place Plan has brought a range of benefits, not least the creation of a planning document that can be implemented and championed by the community.

Place Plan production can facilitate greater community awareness of planning and foster collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders.  It can also help communities come together to deliver positive change to their places; the evidence gathered to produce the Newtown & Llanllwchaiarn Place Plan has already been used to secure over £1million in project funding for the area.

The Newtown & Llanllwchaiarn Place Plan has also identified (and evidenced) community priorities for future Local Development Plan production. For us, this is a first step to creating a positive feedback loop which could deliver great placemaking in planning.



Placemaking at the Little Shed, Tonypandy

Rhianydd Jenkins​, Director of Development and Regeneration at RHA.

Over the past few years, we have been preparing and planning, really questioning ourselves as to how we can help lead on regenerating the town of Tonypandy. Previously described as ‘Britain’s Worst High St’ we have always had a presence in the town, with our office space located just off the main shopping street, we felt really connected within the community and knew we had to play our part as an anchor organization in Tonypandy to shape its future, and work with the local community to build back to what was once a thriving market town.

Despite the previous negative press, there is positivity to be seen, with new businesses opening and footfall increasing following de pedestrianization on the High St, we definitely feel that things are on the up.

We have opted for a 360 approach to ensure our regeneration plans tackle social, economic, and environmental challenges that are evident in the town today. Our plans will see the largest investment in the town for decades, with aspiration that our work and partnerships will be a catalyst to unlock then potential of Tonypandy creating a place that our future generations will be proud of.

Alongside large-scale capital projects, we are working with the residential and business community to ensure we are able to offer spaces that our community needs, for social connection, training, upskilling and a range of other services that will help tackle social isolation, food poverty and help signpost our tenants and the wider community to a wider support network.

A great example of how we are achieving this, is by repurposing our old office which had been vacant for some time to create ‘The Little Shed’. Sitting directly on the main shopping street in Tonypandy we have worked with a variety of partners and utilized community benefit clauses in wider procurement contracts to refurbish our old space and create a vibrant and accessible space for the community.

A key driver for us when delivering this project was to ensure training and upskilling was embedded in delivery of the project, to achieve this we worked with Black Sheep (part of the ARC Training Group) to offer these opportunities. The Black Sheep project supports young people to learn skills for work in construction. They’ve put their learning to good use in the Little Shed though renovation and creating a beautiful wooden feature wall as well as talking with designers on how the space should look. Thirty eight young people from Maes Gwyn and Ferndale Community School have worked on the Little Shed and these amazing young people have all completed Level 1 in Health and Safety in construction, Level 1 in Asbestos Awareness and Level 2 in Manual Handling. A real success for RHA Wales in terms of providing much more than a ‘building’, but creating a place for people in our communities, with people from our local community, that’s the difference with our approach, it’s the engagement and involvement that sits above any capital project or works.

The Little Shed will become home to our food parcel project Grub Hub, as well as offering a community fridge scheme, digital skills support, a Repair Café and our health and wellbeing sessions, available for tenants and the community to use when it opens in the Spring of 2022.


Placemaking Wales – People & Communities Newsletter – Community Initiatives around Wales

There are many grassroots community initiatives around Wales. Here are some links for you to read about them:


Providing Community Services

Taibach, Port Talbot ‘Taibach Community Library is a volunteer run community library based in Taibach, Port Talbot. In 2014, the local community stepped in when the library was threatened with closure due to local authority cuts, and formed the Taibach Community Library charity.’
More information here:

The Arches, Rhayader:  ‘The Arches’ (Rhayader & District Community Support) is an independent Charity set up in 1985 to provide community services for all residents in the postcode area of LD6, particularly in the advancement of education, the furtherance of health and the relief of poverty, distress and sickness.’ They are based in the former post office, which has been converted into a ‘community hub’, and they also own ‘ARCHIE, the community minibus and CARYS the wheelchair accessible car.’
More information here:

Cletwr Café and Shop: ‘Cletwr is a not-for-profit organisation owned and run by the community. It was set up to bring the community together to safeguard vital facilities and services in this rural area. The building also has a Welsh language library, and displays art from local artists.’
More information here:


Celebrating local heritage and history:

Plas Carmel, Aberdaron, Gwynedd – ‘A community project to restore and revive Capel Carmel and the old shop in Anelog, Siop Plas. Their goal is to make sensitive use of the chapel, house, shop and garden – creating a sustainable heritage and cultural site that breathes new life into this rural corner of Llŷn.’
More information here:

Tafarn y Plu, Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd‘When the 200 year old pub in Llanystumdwy was put up for sale in 2015, the local community stepped in. Menter y Plu, a community enterprise, crowdfunded in order to purchase the pub. Tafarn y Plu is now a community pub, which also provides community services.’
More information here:


Boosting Biodiversity:

Bwyd Bendigedig Port / Porthmadog Incredible Edible: ‘What is now known as Incredible Edible Porthmadog was founded in 2016 by Lizzie Wynn and Charissa Buhler. It came about when Lizzie spotted the slightly unkempt raised beds outside Porthmadog Leisure Centre and made enquiries as to whether a local group could take them over and tend them.’
More information here:

Gurnos Men’s Project’s Community Garden, Merthyr Tydfil: ‘The multi award winning Gurnos Men’s Project was established in 2014 as part of the Communities first programme. The project works primarily with unemployed males to deliver environmental activities in local communities.’
More information here:

Swansea Canal Society‘The Swansea Canal Society was established in 1981 aiming to restore and maintain the derelict canal – making it navigable again and improving its environs for the benefit of education, recreation and biodiversity.’
More information here: +

Clydach Community Garden – ‘Originally set up with the help of the local GP cluster’s social prescribing project, Clydach Community Garden have transformed the site from derelict wasteland into a thriving garden in the heart of the village.’
More information here: +

Knucklas Castle Community Land Project, PowysKnucklas Castle Community Land Project is a community land trust that looks after about 21 acres of land in the village of Knucklas, in Powys, which includes two fields of about 4.5 acres together that provide about 35 allotments and an orchard for local people.’
More information here:

Llannerch-y-medd Station Community Garden, Anglesey In their words, ‘This is an exciting project to improve a derelict site and create a Community Garden for Llannerch-y-medd. Get involved, have fun, meet people, and help create something for the community.’
More information here:

Llyn Parc Mawr Community Woodland‘In 2014 over 80 people living in the Newborough and district area held a meeting to discuss the possibility of the community being involved with the management of Newborough Forest.’ The result was a management agreement for 50 acres of forest.’
More information here:


Connecting Communities:

Dryslwyn Community shop, Carmarthenshire – ‘Founded in 2009, Dryslwyn Community Shop and Post Office has operated as a highly successful volunteer-led, not-for-profit community enterprise, which has proved invaluable to a scattered population remote from basic services’
More information here:

Digital Bench, Rhydyfelin Youth Club, Pontypridd: ‘Renew Wales and Rhydyfelin Youth Club worked together on an exciting and innovative idea – the members of the youth club had the idea to create a bench that could be used to give homeless people shelter and would help to keep people connected.’
More information here: +



Placemaking and Climate resilience on the Crindau Flood Alleviation Scheme, Newport

Laura Cotton, Natural Resources Wales

How do you ‘placemake’ a flood alleviation project?

Flood schemes can cover large areas; often intertwined with well-used public spaces.  The flood protection element is hopefully only used infrequently, but the built structures are permanently in place for the community during their daily lives.  Considering placemaking during objective setting and design could help build more successful flood schemes, and improve the local environment.

Since this project was completed, the Crindau community of Newport is now better protected from flooding. Over Six hundred properties have reduced flood risk as a result of 2.6 km of new flood walls and embankments.  Consideration of climate change resilience and sea level rise in the design will ensure that the flood risk benefit will be maintained for another 100 years.

This article briefly explains some of the benefits delivered beyond the flood remit – supporting wider wellbeing, environmental and sustainability objectives.

Landscape Design and Placemaking

The project needed to provide flood protection, but also equally important was our vision to improve a deprived area to create better spaces for people.  Critical to the success was appointing environmental advisors and landscape architects early –  to help shape the project objectives and design.

A derelict working men’s club was demolished, allowing part of the site to  become an amenity area containing colourful planting and informal play features.   Unsafe areas were improved through design, such as the removal of old garages, a disused toilet block and demolition of two decaying industrial buildings – introducing light and a better feeling of space.  Large amounts of contaminated waste were removed. Areas subject to fly tipping and drug use were modified so that the community would feel safer.  For example, an area under a road flyover was made more ‘friendly’ by removing walls, re-landscaping and providing new lighting columns. A children’s play area was made safer by fencing it from the river and upgrading safety matting around play equipment.

Other new features provided a safer connection for people walking between the community, Shaftsbury Park and the City.  We improved several cycleways, footpaths and created new ones.

Consideration was given to how the flood defences would reflect their setting. The finishes therefore change from steel in the more industrial settings, to different types and colours of stone and bricks in more public areas, that tied in with existing brick work on properties. This created high quality urban finishes in places that previously  were neglected. The gates at Shaftsbury Park were replaced with a bespoke design manufactured locally and old Victorian railings were replaced.


We integrated measures to improve access and quality of greenspaces.  Planting of trees, bulbs and wildflowers provided colour, interest and biodiversity benefits.

The flood defence around Shaftesbury Park integrated amphitheatre style seating providing a viewpoint overlooking sports pitches, making them multi-purpose.

We hope to deliver improvements to another area of Newport during our flood works in Liswerry next year and in other communities across Wales.


(Above) The improved path on the crest of the flood defence through Shaftsbury park.

(Above) Photograph shows the design stage of the project. It was identified that the brickwork on Pugsley street was a feature that could be replicated in the flood defence design. Second photograph shows the completed wall prior to landscaping.

(Above) Amphitheatre style seating integrated within the flood defence.

(Above) Red brick finish at Lyne Road and robust piling and finishes (concrete kerbs) needed within the industrial area off Albany Street. A fence is needed to prevent fly tipping onto the riverbank and increase security for the businesses.


Placemaking for Future Generations in a Changing Climate

Petranka Malcheva and Marie Brosseau-Navarro, Future Generations Office.

The wave of climate change is upon us, and we only have a few years to protect our future generations from its catastrophic consequences. As the last generation with the ability to take action to prevent the worst effects of climate change, we have the responsibility to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that our children and grandchildren can grow up in a functioning, green and biodiverse world that enables everyone to fulfil their full potential.

Land use planning has an important role to play here. Our built environment is directly linked to our natural environment. If done without care for long-term trends and impacts planning can increase vulnerabilities such as exposure to floods. But it can also, if done right, be an extremely powerful tool to both build climate resilience and to achieve the ambitious vision set out in the Well-being of Future Generations Act.

Placing biodiversity, sustainability and placemaking at the heart of every planning decision that we make in Wales, would naturally effect positive change in many other areas like land use, infrastructure, transport, housing, public health and equality as is required by the pioneering legislation for the well-being of future generations in Wales.

Future generations need us to be planning for places which actively seek to prevent climate change and its impacts, help restore stability and increase the resilience of our ecosystems.

Planning places in a way that preserves open space and greenfield sites, incorporates green infrastructure (especially in urban zones), and encourages tree planting can minimise vulnerabilities and increase resilience. Such approaches can also help unlock multiple benefits such as improved air quality, increase in local green skills fit for a net zero economy, which would enable young people to remain within their communities, as well as ensuring equal access to nature and green space for everyone, this contributing to multiple well-being goals.

By supporting ambitions for increased tree planting, such as the National Forest for Wales, planning can increase the capability of the land sector to act as a carbon sink and remove emissions from the atmosphere, decrease risk of flooding and help restore natural habitats of native Welsh species. This will also offer opportunities for our economy and the shift to green skills and a green net zero carbon economy we need.

This is something that should be done with people. It is vital that communities are brought along to these journeys and their knowledge and expertise is utilised in collaborating and co-designing climate resilience solutions for the places they live in.

The opportunities for action are many and the key to success lies in taking these opportunities and scaling them up urgently, or we are risking a tomorrow where our future generations are having to carry sandbags and build their own lifeboats to save themselves from our inaction today.


Placemaking, Climate Change and the Routes to Net Zero

In October 2021, DCFW and the RSAW hosted a joint event titled ‘Climate change and the Routes to Net Zero’. Three of DCFW’S Design Review Panel members spoke at the event – Ashley Bateson, Lynne Sullivan and Simon Richards.

Ashley Bateson is a Partner and the Head of Sustainability at Hoare Lea. Ashley works with clients and architects to improve energy efficiency and achieve broader sustainability objectives. Ashley is an expert contributor to a number of organisations and government research and reviews, is an active member of the UKGBC and a member of the Design Commission for Wales Design Review Panel.

Lynne Sullivan OBE is an architect at LSA Studio. A consistent theme in Lynne’s work has been built environment sustainability, through the buildings and places she has designed and delivered, and through research and advisory roles. Lynne is a Visiting Professor and design consultant, including as a Design Advisor for RIBA Competitions and a Design Council expert. Lynne authors and chairs policy review and research projects for UK governments and others, is a Board member of the Passivhaus Trust and the CLC’s Green Construction Board, Chair of the Good Homes Alliance and a member of the Design Commission for Wales Design Review Panel.

Simon Richards is the Founder Director at Land Studio. He has spent over fifteen years leading design teams and projects on a range of sites throughout the UK and internationally. He is also a panellist and Co-Chair for the Design Commission for Wales and a panellist for the Chester City design review panel.

In this article they revisit some of the key themes raised in the event.


Ashley Bateson:

Climate change will impact the built environment in many ways. We have already seen significant trends in the last ten years: heat waves, more extreme weather events, storms, and flooding. Yet our way of planning and designing buildings hasn’t changed much. Architectural priorities, engineering methods and construction standards haven’t altered during this period, or indeed for decades, despite the well published science on the consequences of global warming. We need to fundamentally embed climate resilience in how we plan and design, in order to limit the detrimental impacts on properties, people and infrastructure.

New buildings should be designed to limit overheating risk. Measures such as designing appropriately configured glazing (with limits on full height glazing), providing more openable windows that allow purge ventilation and shading, where appropriate, can avoid overheating conditions. External environments should incorporate nature-based solutions to moderate microclimates, absorb rainfall and create cooling conditions in the summer.

Many of these techniques are not new and well recognised in traditional architecture. Even though we know that temperatures are predicted to rise, we see new homes, schools and offices that don’t have sufficient means of limiting solar gains or providing adequate ventilation. In some cases, the conditions become unbearable, and these buildings become difficult to occupy. Some local authorities require designs to be informed by thermal dynamic modelling and expect overheating risk assessments, but most planning authorities don’t have a policy for this, so non-resilient designs are being developed without proper reviews.

If we make climate resilience a priority in planning and design, we can deliver a better quality of life for occupants, reduce costs of repairing damage and reduce the need for more expensive mitigation later. Internationally it’s not a new experience. It’s a great opportunity to see how other countries deal with hotter summers and wetter winters and learn design lessons from them.


Lynne Sullivan:

Following COP26 in November 2021 even the UK – with its world-leading 78% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035 ambitions – must revisit and strengthen the policies needed to meet targets agreed in Paris 2015. For the built environment sector, which is responsible for 40% of our carbon, this means radical change.

Our sector’s role in placemaking is key to linking the range of strategies needed to rise to this challenge. For example, if you analyse carbon footprint on a local/regional basis, transport always represents the biggest portion, so designers must advocate reducing transport emissions by location, amenity, and connectivity choices.

The design of buildings must be holistic: accurately predicting the carbon footprint of buildings over their lifetime demands a cultural re-think for our industry, favouring sustainable re-use of existing structures and materials, as well as driving down energy demand to a level consistent with our Paris commitments, and ensuring performance in use matches prediction.  It is estimated that 40% of existing UK homes overheat and, in a warming climate, shading and the ability to minimize excess temperatures is a crucial aspect of building design but also demands design of public space and streets to mitigate high temperatures and damaging health impacts.

Well-designed green spaces are proven to reduce ambient temperatures as well as providing health benefits and socialising possibilities. Welsh Government has committed to plant 86 million more trees in Wales, and in December 2021 announced that every household in Wales will have a tree to plant, either at home or in their community.  Designers can deploy these initiatives to draw together a progressive vision for built environment developments, to improve and create places which are attractive, therapeutic, and resilient.

Technology is our friend in this endeavour: world class public transport infrastructure ensuring green travel and inclusive access is of key importance, and on-demand autonomous private and shared infrastructure is now on trial in the UK.  Digital Building passports are being rolled out as part of Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme, paving the way for all buildings new and existing to have a digital ‘twin’ to track materials, maintenance, and performance, offering every building user a digital ‘app’ interface which enables them to track air quality and energy data – real-time evidence of design outcomes!


Simon Richards:

Reconnecting people with nature is vital to tackling the impact of global warming.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and the gradual urbanisation of the natural environment, we have become increasingly detached from nature. Sadly, too many of us have little or no understanding of the natural processes and cycles that surround us. It has led to a dangerous lack of understanding and care for addressing the problems we have created. For too long, we have been working against nature rather than with it.

So, what can we do to address the awareness of climate change in today’s society and what should the landscapes of the future look like?

I believe that if we re-connect with natural process, we will enhance biodiversity, reduce flood risk, sequester carbon, and create a more resilient food-producing landscape. As designers, we should seek to embed nature into our designs, whether we are designing a landscape for a school, a residential street, or the re-interpretation of a National Trust property.

The water cycle is a key component of our landscapes that also needs to be addressed and fully integrated into our built environment. Enhancement of watercourses and de-culverting of drains are integral to healthy habitats and visible nature.

The re-establishment of ancient water management practices through rain gardens, woodland management and, critically, the siting of new development helps to create a resilient natural environment whilst demonstrating to people the positive value of water in our landscapes.

As designers, we could begin to specify some exotic planting. Highly flexible, these plants are good at responding to unusual environments more quickly than our native plants.

It is important that we choose ethical and environmentally sensitive materials with a low carbon footprint. We should also look at calculating, reducing, and offsetting our carbon in a meaningful and long-term way.

The health of our soils has long been a forgotten component in our landscapes, but it forms an integral part of a successful rehabilitation of the natural environment and the enhanced sequestration of carbon.

Nature should be at the heart of practice. If we enable people to have a better understanding of the importance of nature, then we have a greater chance of successfully tackling the challenges of our changing climate.



Charter Anniversary Blog Post: Hana Rowlands, of Edenstone, talks about using the Placemaking Wales Charter.

Hana Rowlands, Edenstone Homes


The Placemaking Wales Placemaking Guide

I am a Part 1 architecture student working at the Edenstone Group within the design team. I was set the challenge to redesign part of our Orb Drive, Newport scheme which we acquired with a reserved matters planning approval for 100 homes. The Placemaking Wales Charter, along with the Placemaking Guide 2020 was my starting point.

We set out to create a strong identity for this phase of the scheme with a sense of place and to create opportunities for social interaction, activity/play and thereby promote a sense of community.

The result is an open, central green that provides the community with an informal play area as well as a place for community activities. The houses surrounding the green have a strong frontage and provide natural surveillance and a safe environment. The key vistas have been addressed with landscaping and feature buildings as well as pedestrian footpaths to link the private drives to improve site connectivity.

We are also using the scheme to develop one of a number of our net zero carbon pilot homes along with Sero, an energy service and tech company in order to achieve our ambition of being a net zero carbon business by 2025.

We use the headings of the Placemaking Wales Charter and the 12 questions from Building For Life 12, Wales as the agenda for our briefing and design review process. The six principles of placemaking work on large scale and mixed-use developments but the theory of Placemaking – ACTIVITY, PHYSICAL FORM and MEANING work at every scale of design.



Charter Anniversary Blog Post: Marianne Mannello, of Play Wales, talks about the Placemaking Charter and play.

Marianne Mannello, Play Wales


Placemaking Charter and play


Playing is central to children’s health and well-being.  It is one of the most important aspects of their lives; however, they report barriers:

  • parked cars and traffic intensity and speed
  • fear of strangers
  • unwelcoming attitudes and environments

The Placemaking Guide discusses how organising play streets can bring people together and revive existing public spaces.

Play Wales supports initiatives that reclaim neighbourhoods for play.  Playing out is good for children and neighbourhoods. Play Wales worked with three Welsh Councils- Vale of Glamorgan, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport to pilot street play in their areas, making streets and communities play friendlier places.

Sally Hughes, local resident and mother, said:

“There are two reasons why we wanted to bring a play street to our neighbourhood. First is how dangerous the road is outside our house.  Having a moment to breathe easy and know our children are safe to be out in the place where they live is a step towards the future we’d like to see.

The other thing is building community, feeling a sense of belonging to the place where we live and the people who we live nearest to.

Our son played with other local children who he wouldn’t have got the chance to meet otherwise.  He was so happy to be free to run and ride his bike. We also conjured playfulness from local teenagers who enjoyed the massive bubbles. It was a thoroughly intergenerational time – we were aged from under 1 to 70+. We really did bring people together!”


Charter Anniversary Blog Post: Land Studio discuss the principle of ‘Identity’ which is part of the Placemaking Wales Charter

Kate Richards, Land Studio

Whilst all six principles of the charter are important in the work we do, it is “identity” that has resonated with us throughout the design process on a project we started last year. The Powys Crematorium is proposed to be a crematorium, natural burial ground and memorial garden set in the pastoral landscape near Caersws, west of Newtown in Mid-Wales.

Our approach to the design began with an analysis of the wider site context, which included both historical and geological aspects. The Caersws Basin (the confluence of four rivers into the Severn Valley) also acted as a boundary for historic kingdoms and a major corridor for communication. We then studied views out and into the site, identifying geological and natural features in the landscape that shape the character of the place.

The next layer of analysis focused on the future use of the site by looking back through the history of burial and cremation, and defining what remembrance can mean, in the context of a landscape. We identified three elements (people, landscape and culture), and subsequently defined a series of ‘memories’ specific to Powys that could also contribute to the sense of place in our proposal.

The design of spaces, routes and materiality were all led by these two strands of analysis, and we believe the resulting masterplan is a strong representation of the natural and cultural history of the landscape. We hope that this resilient identity will create a truly unique place of remembrance for the people of Powys.


Charter Anniversary Blog Post: EDP and Swansea Council discuss their placemaking work on Bryngwyn Fields Garden Village in Swansea


EDP and Swansea Council


Bryngwyn Fields – Garden Village, Swansea


Project Description

An exemplar collaborative approach to placemaking resulting in a masterplan and reserved matters application for a strategic urban extension allocation in Swansea including 720 homes.

(The application received unanimous approval at Planning Committee on 2nd July 2021).


Covid Collaboration – A Virtual Victory?

What success looks like when development teams and local authorities embrace virtual placemaking workshops and engagement?

When EDP were approached by Persimmon Homes to act as a placemaking adviser little did we know then that the role and scope would expand to cover 2020 and into 2021 but would be done during a global pandemic, a period where how we lived and worked would be fundamentally changed. Coronavirus has forced us to change our approach to ensure we could actively engage and collaborate between all parties.  We established a process with which to virtually collaborate to meet the placemaking objectives through a series of group video workshops.

This ‘new’ way of meeting and workshopping ideas felt much more democratic, with everyone arranged on screen as individuals as opposed to ‘us and them’ with metaphorical battlelines drawn across a table from one another.


Placemaking & Strategic Planning Advisor – Swansea City Council

‘The negotiation process between applicant and LPA, which have been undertaken in large part during COVID-19 lockdown, has been a collaborative and creative exercise that significantly improved the scheme as originally proposed in the initial Reserved Matters application.’

‘In fact, the process followed is considered a potential exemplar of the placemaking approach for residential developments. Having regard to the submitted plans and information, there is a significant opportunity for Bryngwyn Fields, Garden Village to become a connected place, a green place, a distinctive place and potentially an exemplar of green infrastructure-led placemaking by a mass house builder.’ 

Quote from: Placemaking & Strategic Planning Advisor Committee Report– Swansea City Council


Charter Anniversary Blog Post: Benham Architects discuss placemaking and The Grange Pavillion

Dan Benham, Benham Architects

The Grange Pavilion embodies the six values of placemaking by engaging with the community at every phase of the design and construction process. This allows us to inculcate their passion, energy, diversity and cultures into driving the design and creation of this place to design a space that they can call ‘home’.

The Pavilion has now become the centre stage for community gathering, encouraging the space to adapt to its vibrant and creative Grangetown community. In November 2017, the partnership sought to extend and formalise the project board and created Grange Pavilion, a new organisation to take ownership and management responsibility for the building and grounds. The board is made up of 18 individuals, with a minimum 60% Grangetown residents.

Over the last three years, Grange Pavilion has brought together more than 3,000 residents, was used by over 100 stakeholders, and launched 150 community-led initiatives in response to locally-generated ideas, resulting in over 1,000 sessions/activities on site.

Being a space that is created by the people and for the people, the Pavilion is constantly growing and adapting. It embeds itself into the public realm, through its location, programme and transparent – welcoming design. The Pavilion starts to mold into a central core for the community, a safe place, a gathering space, a social space, an educational hub, but the final form is undetermined and not pre-planned. It will change, grow and evolve with the community.


Case Study: Creating a community-led and community-owned facility

The Grange Pavillion team tell us the placemaking story behind their development in Grangetown, Cardiff


Location:                              Grange Pavilion, Grange Gardens, Grangetown, Cardiff

Local Authority:                Cardiff Council

Client:                                   Grange Pavilion CIO

Design team:                      Dan Benham Architect and IBI Group, with the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University; The Urbanists; Holloway Partnership; Mann Williams; Mott Macdonald; BECT Construction

Date of completion:        October 2020

Contract value:                  £1.87 million

Site area:                             600m2 building

Density:                                n/a

Funding source:                National Lottery, Welsh Government, Enabling Natural Resources Wales, Moondance Foundation, Garfield Weston, HEFCW, Clothworkers Foundation, Cardiff Bay Rotary Club, and individual donations.


People and Community

The Grange Pavilion is a community-led and community-owned facility, achieved through a 99-year Community Asset Transfer and redevelopment of a formerly vacant Bowls Pavilion and green. The project began with a group of residents identifying the need to improve a deteriorating facility in a popular neighbourhood park.

Forming as the Grange Pavilion project, the residents partnered with Cardiff University’s Community Gateway in 2012 to launch Ideas Picnics, event days and a three-year residency with a regular program of activities in the vacant building to increase awareness and build capacity by developing relationships with local residents and existing community organisations and businesses. The design team, led by Dan Benham Architects and IBI Group, developed a design brief through design workshops exploring the ideas generated by the residency.

Opening in October 2020 in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Grange Pavilion is currently under asset guardianship by Cardiff University, giving the newly constituted Grange Pavilion CIO time to develop the capacity to take on the 99-year lease. Composed of 60% residents and partner institutions, Cardiff University, Cardiff and Vale College, Taff Housing, RSPB Cymru, and Cardiff Bay Rotary Club, the Grange Pavilion CIO now manage a program of activities aimed at making Grange Pavilion welcoming and accessible to Grangetown’s multiple communities. Having achieved the ambition of quality which underpinned the development of the Grange Pavilion, ongoing partnership developments view the Grange Pavilion as evidencing the ability of community-led collaborations to improve the built environment on a neighbourhood-wide scale.

Understanding the place

Close collaboration between the Grange Pavilion CIO, Cardiff University’s Community Gateway, the Welsh School of Architecture, Dan Benham and IBI Group supported several years of research to deeply understand the context well before any design proposals began. Live teaching studios co-led by residents asked students to document and analyse historical and contemporary archives, and ran Ideas Picnics, vision days, and storytelling days to explore Grangetown’s physical and cultural settings. All research worked with appreciative inquiry and asset-based principles, focusing on celebrating and building upon existing strengths, skills and possibilities instead of identifying problems to be solved.

The design was informed by the residency in the vacant building, opening up the building and grounds for a multitude of different activities to be offered and tested before finalising any design decisions. Key design elements – the importance of access to a sheltered garden space, an outdoor classroom and events space, a café serving the building and park, a variety of independent and flexible bookable spaces a materials palette respectful of a context of Victorian terraced housing and a screen design using detailing from historical park bandstand – were the direct result of several years of open days and design workshop days with multiple community groups.

As a facility run by community members, a core aim was that of achieving long term civic quality, prioritising good quality and low maintenance materials and equipment.

(photo by Kyle Pearce)



The Grange Pavilion sits in Grange Gardens, close to the Taff Trail improvements put in place by Cardiff Council’s Greener Grangetown and on bus routes and is within a short walking distance to Grangetown train station and Cardiff Central. The next round of fundraising is targeting bike stands in Grange Gardens Park and plans are in place to request signage advertising Grange Pavilion as a stop-off point on the Taff Trail. The core benefit of the project is the provision of a café, accessible toilets and a water-filling point for a popular neighbourhood park.


Mix of uses

The Grange Pavilion CIO’s core aim is to create a welcoming, accessible, non-institutional space which demonstrates a sense of long-term civic quality. The physical layout provides three multifunctional indoor spaces, a co-working office, an outdoor classroom and outdoor events space. The pre-development residency and workshop events emphasised the need for a series of flexible, robust, bright, generous and independently operable yet connected spaces with direct access to the gardens, to accommodate a wide range of community activities. Each space is accessed through a community-led café and adjacent public accessible toilets serving the Grange Pavilion and Grange Gardens, encouraging crossover between the Grange Pavilion and park users.


Public realm

A core factor in the business case to redevelop the Grange Pavilion was the lack of physical and psychological accessibility of the prior facility: several steps into the space meant the building was not disabled accessible, and shutters created an unwelcoming and hostile frontage to the park. The redevelopment prioritises visual and physical accessibility through the building and landscape, with ramps and raised beds ensuring all landscaped elements are accessible, and barrier-free access to all indoor facilities. SUDS rainwater gardens line the perimeter of the gardens, diverting all roof drainage into three rainwater ponds surrounded by pollinator planting. The outdoor classroom and events space have been used by school groups, community gardening groups, the Grangetown World Street market, taster sports sessions including football, cricket, rugby, cycling and baseball. Café seating extends into the gardens and into the park, with a café hatch opposite an existing playground and bandstand.


Delivery structure

The project began with a resident speaking to a local councillor about how to do something about a deteriorating local facility. The conversation, which focused on the need to do something of quality, began the process of a Community Asset Transfer, supported by Cardiff Council’s Stepping Up program, and a Cardiff Council Neighbourhood Partnerships grant provided the first external grant to retain an architect for an early feasibility study. Local authority council members supported the project and the asset transfer throughout and sit on the Grange Pavilion CIO to maintain an ongoing relationship.  Cardiff University’s Community Gateway brought a long-term institutional commitment to the project from the earliest stages, joined by Cardiff and Vale College, Taff Housing, RSPB Cymru, and Cardiff Bay Rotary Club, each bringing increased access to diverse areas of resources and expertise to support the project as it progressed through each stage.

A successful application to a National Lottery Community Asset Transfer 2 grant brought two-stage support to develop a planning application and business case, and capital and 5-year revenue funding to support the redevelopment and launch.  Lottery funding included mentorship from The Development Trusts Association Wales (DTA Wales), and networking site visits to other community asset transfer projects throughout Wales, which were invaluable in identifying key challenges and opportunities to address in the design brief and business case.

The design team were initially invited, along with other architectural practices, to join the project through funded short live teaching briefs, giving the design teams the opportunity to embed into the project and run pre-design activities to get to know the residents’ group, the wider community, and the site. Selected on the basis of evidencing an approach to community co-production, the design team continued design workshops within the residency at several key design stages from concept through detailed design.  Annual live teaching briefs with the Welsh School of Architecture brought students in to further investigate design decisions, including detailing of external screens, planning for daily activities, and ongoing post-occupancy evaluation.


What was the greatest challenge in the delivery of the project and how was it overcome?

The length of time and scale of the demand on all involved – some of the grant applications requiring several months to complete the required paperwork – and the balance in maintaining co-production amongst a continuously evolving and client group with an evolving vision. Grant deadlines at times led to short-term rather than long-term decision making in order to meet capital spending deadlines, and the pressures of institutional frameworks and short-term budgetary pressures had to be balanced against the long-term interests of achieving the aim of civic quality.  A construction site lockdown and opening the building during Covid-19 lockdowns brought its own unique pressures, reducing end of construction budgets for interiors, but allowing for a bare-bones opening and an ongoing funding drive to collaboratively bring the interior to life.


What is the most successful aspect of the development?

A community-envisioned, community-led facility, with generous, bright, inviting and flexible interior and exterior spaces are now being brought to life by a huge variety of local and national individuals and organisations, working together to lead activities for diverse ages, faiths, genders and physical and mental health conditions. As a recent nowinaminutemedia post observed: ‘The landmark £2m expansion of the centre has already proven to be a remarkably inviting and safe place to grow, exhibit, meet, film and create.’


What didn’t work as well as expected or has had to change or evolve?

A covid-19 lockdown stripped out an interiors budget, particularly impacting on interior and exterior furnishings and fixtures.  While the decision to maintain the quality of the permanent materials palette was the right one, it has meant a bare-bones launch with a long term aim of adding more of the richer, more colourful, softer interior elements, and completing more of the landscaped elements including raised beds, seating and cycle racks.  Balancing long term civic quality against short term budget shortfalls always leads to some degree of value engineering, but the long-term commitment from all involved enabled decision making to focus on long term value with the confidence that the project doesn’t end when the doors open.


Building with Nature refreshes Green Infrastructure Standards for the UK built environment sector.

Dr Gemma Jerome, Director of Building with Nature

Five years on from creating the UK’s first green infrastructure benchmark, we were delighted to be releasing our updated Standards on the 17th of June. We have refreshed our guidance to ensure it remains up to date and continues to define ‘what good looks like’, whilst simplifying the framework to make it even easier for industry to use.

The Standards retain the four themes of Core, Wellbeing, Water, and Wildlife, however there are now only 12 Standards in total, making it more straightforward for residential and commercial developers to design and deliver high quality green infrastructure. Two new Standards are now included, one focusing on the climate emergency, capturing all the ways in which green infrastructure can make places and people more resilient to the worst impacts of climate change. And another focusing on ‘place-keeping’, which explicitly defines good practice relating to long-term management, maintenance, monitoring, and stewardship of green infrastructure features.

The new Standards capture the recent policy and legislation changes in Wales, integrating planning policy and guidance around green infrastructure, to ensure Building with Nature complements and supports Green Infrastructure Assessments, and the commitment to maintain, create, and enhance quality places for people and wildlife. In this sense, the Building with Nature Standards and Accreditation system sits firmly within the DECCA framework, designed to assess ecosystem resilience, supported by Natural Resource Wales.

The BwN Standards have been developed in partnership with Welsh Government, and Joanne Smith who sits on the BwN Standards Board responsible for overseeing the process of refreshing the standards in line with policy, legislation, and good industry practice, noted that: “the Standards set a high bar and align with what we would wish to see happening in Wales.”


How Building with Nature works

The Building with Nature benchmark makes it easier for those charged with planning, designing, delivering, and maintaining green infrastructure to secure a range of benefits more consistently for people and wildlife, now and in the long term. It does not require additional preparation of supplementary documentation and works alongside the process followed by built and natural environment professionals, including planners and developers. We do this by providing a framework of holistic design principles, the BwN Standards, and ‘how to’ guidance to help bring forward projects that more effectively deliver high quality green infrastructure at each stage of delivery, from early-stage design, through implementation, and post-construction.

Building with Nature is a voluntary initiative for those who want to go beyond the statutory minima. It offers an assessment and accreditation service to support and reward the delivery of high-quality green infrastructure in both new and existing communities. It is best suited to ‘major’ or ’significant’ sites (10+ houses; 0.5 hectares or more; 1000+ square metres of floor space) and ‘strategic’ sites, such as major regeneration schemes or urban extensions. It can be used for residential, commercial, and community infrastructure developments.

Using the BwN Standards

The BwN Standards Framework is free to use and can be downloaded from our website. Taken together, the 12 BwN Standards define “what good looks like” by offering a set of quality standards for placemaking and place-keeping, covering the themes of Wellbeing, Water and Wildlife. The BwN Standards support cross-disciplinary decision making about green infrastructure design and delivery, from both a planner’s point of view (e.g., for use in both policy making and development management), and a developer’s point of view in their application to the master-planning and detailed design, implementation and construction, or management and maintenance of green infrastructure in development.


July 2021 Policy News

LDP Updates

The Welsh Government highlight opportunities to engage with LDP updates.

The role of planning and planners is key to delivering sustainable and vibrant places for communities. Planning brings opportunities for proactive and innovative approaches to shaping places.  It is uniquely placed to bring people together and to think strategically to shape places into the future. The plan led system is a vital tool in delivering strategic placemaking principles; Local Development Plans should set out a bold, positive vision for their areas recognising opportunities to enhance their communities.

There are a number of Local Development Plans in the early stages of being reviewed.  This is an important opportunity for everyone involved in the planning system to actively embrace the placemaking agenda and shape plans to reflect their local communities and set a framework for a sustainable future. This is best achieved through engagement at the early stages of preparing the plan with a wide range of stakeholders, including those people and organisations who have committed to delivering the placemaking charter’s principles. This will help to ensure that high quality places are delivered across Wales for the benefit of their communities. More information on how to get involved with Local Development Plans can be found on every council’s websites.  The Local Development Plan delivery agreements and community involvement schemes set out how and when to get involved.


20mph speed limit to become a reality on some Welsh roads from this summer

The Welsh Government discuss the plans to reduce the national speed limit from 30mph to 20mph.

Plans to reduce the national speed limit from 30mph to 20mph across Wales on residential roads and other streets where there are lots of pedestrians, will form part of the Welsh Government’s legislative priorities for this year, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters has confirmed.

If passed, Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce the change which it is hoped that this change will encourage more people to walk and cycle, and with fewer vehicles on the roads there will be a positive impact on the environment. This will play an instrumental role in helping to save lives, protect our communities and improve quality of life for all.

The Welsh 20mph Taskforce investigated road safety and community benefits of slower speeds in built up areas and you can read the report by clicking on the links below:




Phase 1 is being rolled out in eight communities across Wales starting in June 2021 to test and develop the approach for a full rollout by 2023.

The eight locations are:

  • Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
  • Central North Cardiff
  • Severnside, Monmouthshire
  • Buckley, Flintshire
  • Cilfrew Village, Neath and Port Talbot
  • St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire
  • St Brides Major, Vale of Glamorgan
  • Llanelli North, Carmarthenshire.

St Dogmaels in Pembrokeshire and St Brides Major in the Vale of Glamorgan are already live and will be followed by Llanelli North in September. These trials will help develop enforcement arrangements and overcome unforeseen issues before the full rollout.

The areas chosen are intended to be representative sample of different locations found across Wales, including villages, towns and cities. They will focus on community engagement, meaning that as well as developing enforcement arrangements they will communicate the value of the new speed limit, making the case for reduced speed leading to more cohesive and safe communities.

Initial findings from a national public attitude survey, conducted by Beaufort Research, showed support for the plans. 92% of those who wanted a change to the speed limit on their street suggested a speed limit of 20mph or lower, while 77% said they wanted to see this speed limit applied throughout the area in which they live. The study will be published shortly on the Welsh Government website.

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, said: Making 20mph the default speed limit in residential areas is a bold step that will save lives.

We have made progress on reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads over the 21 years of devolution, but despite our considerable efforts the highest proportion of all casualties, 50%, occurred on 30mph roads during 2018. This cannot be tolerated, so a reduction to 20mph on our residential and other busy pedestrian urban roads has to be the way forward.

Decreasing speeds reduces accidents and saves lives, and alongside this the quality of life will improve, making room on our streets for safer active travel. This helps reduce our environmental impact and has a positive outcome for our physical and mental wellbeing.

As part of this approach the Welsh Government is consulting prior to laying legislation and making the change 20mph national default speed limit on these roads. The consultation started on the 9th July running for 12 weeks and will come to an end on 1st October 2021. Please click on links below to see more information about the consultation.




What is the future for High Streets – and how can design professionals support a greener future?

Wendy Maden, Senior High Streets Renewal Designer & Project Manager at Bath & North East Somerset Council, and DCFW Panel Member

In recent years, changing lifestyles and the growth of online commerce have had a substantial impact on high street businesses. Challenging trading conditions have been made much worse by the effects of Covid-19 restrictions on shops, hospitality, and leisure facilities. A wealth of reports, comment and publications have extolled reinvention since the public health crisis, but what is possible in practice and what can we learn from?

One example is the High Streets Renewal programme in Bath & North East Somerset aims to address the decline of the high street across its city, market towns and local centres. Several projects are in design and delivery which intend to respond to the unique challenges of these areas, considering their different characters, functions, and localities.

Covid-19 has had a varied impact on the high street at different scales, from large scale closures of retail businesses across the country, to renewed interest in travelling by walking and cycling, to new reliance on local centres to shop. Lockdowns have encouraged people to make better use of their local centres and high streets, so where temporary interventions to widen footways and provide outdoor seating for businesses have been implemented to facilitate this, the opportunity could be grasped to make some of these measures more permanent to reimagine how local communities can function.

In the short term the Council is bringing forward initiatives that will protect our existing businesses and local jobs and give residents a reason to visit again. However, we also have longer term plans to help renew our high streets to prepare for the future by creating a greater variety in the mix of uses and activities.


Reclaiming Streets for People

How the high streets are perceived and how they function can help influence more sustainable changes in habits through, for example, reclaiming streets for active travel and enhancing public space. These actions make the move towards treating streets as spaces for public life, events, active travel, and community, rather than heavily trafficked highways.

  • Delivering ‘parklets’ – an area of seating and planting which can sit in the space of a standard parking bay to reclaim highway as public space, which introduce urban greening and increase dwell time in the street.
  • Working with a local pub to develop a business collaboration model for private parklets in the street which serve an adjacent business.
  • Relocating cycle parking from the footway to car parking bays to free up space for pedestrians and reclaim more usable public space.
  • Vehicle access restrictions with bespoke gates which allow filtered permeability for cycles, cargo bikes and pedestrians.
  • Greening through planters and parklets which, whilst also looking attractive, support biodiversity gain and pollinators by the inclusion of nectar-rich plants.
  • Festivals and events to transform spaces and people’s perception of a street. A Car Free Day on Milsom Street reclaimed the street for a weekend of events and animation, delivered in partnership with the businesses, Business Improvement District, and other local partners.
  • Consideration of the materiality and embodied carbon of street furniture and public realm measures, which included f furniture by Vestre who are aiming to build the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory. Although the initial costs may be higher, the long term, wider public benefits of more sustainable street furniture can make this option better value for money through its life cycle.
  • An e-scooter pilot throughout Bath to encourage more sustainable travel modes throughout the city and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Reimagining the Vacant Shops

A Vacant Units Action Project has been set up to respond to increasing vacancy rates in Bath and the market towns by implementing a project to reimagine the future of high streets focusing on using vacant shops as spaces for art, community use and different types of business.

Shopfront installations could be wasteful as they are temporary in nature, however sustainability has been a thread through these animations at varying scales. Biodegradable or reusable materials have been used in shopfront installations created by local arts groups. This includes supporting artists that have installations to exhibit so empty shopfronts are used as gallery spaces for existing projects, rather than creating something new and disposable.


As part of Covid recovery, the project is delivering a High Streets Hub for businesses in Bath City Centre in a vacant unit. The fit out of the unit is being designed and delivered by a certified B Corporation, meaning that they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. The brief requires the use of second-hand furniture and sustainable materials to create this public-facing space.

Although the challenges of the high street post-Covid are numerous, these pilot projects are helping to demonstrate that environmental performance and sustainability need not be compromised in delivery of high quality, design-led renewal. Creative re-use of the high street and diversification of land uses are needed as the high street moves away from the classic retail model which in turn should bring people to live, work and enjoy leisure time in the city centre.




April 2021 Newsletter Welcome / Croeso i Gylchlythyr Ebrill 2021

Welcome from Jen Heal / Croeso gan Jen Heal

Welcome to the first Placemaking Wales newsletter.  Thank you for signing up to the Placemaking Wales Charter, a key initiative in the promotion of placemaking in Wales with over 70 signatories from the private, public and third sectors pledging their commitment to support the development of high-quality places.

Indeed, we were particularly pleased to announce Swansea Council as the second local authority in Wales to commit to building back better by signing the Wales Placemaking Charter. The news was welcomed by Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn. You can read more here.

The purpose of this newsletter is to showcase some of the great work that is taking place and share insights and best practice amongst fellow built environment professionals. This edition includes contributions from several members of the Placemaking Wales Partnership who helped shape the Charter. Their pieces have been very much influenced by the ongoing restrictions we are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic and how this has shaped the way we look at our homes and neighbourhoods. The articles cover the topics of homes, heritage and play and we are pleased to bring you a new case study which addresses all of these matters. You will also find new updates and details of some upcoming events.

It is clear that placemaking requires the dedication and expertise of all of those involved in shaping the built and natural environment, which is why the cross disciplinary nature of the chartership is so important and why we want to bring you inspiration and updates from sectors that you may not normally hear from.  I’ll be keen to hear your feedback and consider any suggestions that you have for future content – simply email me at

With my best wishes,


Croeso i gylchlythyr cyntaf Creu Lleoedd Cymru.  Diolch am gofrestru ar gyfer Siarter Creu Lleoedd Cymru, menter allweddol wrth hybu creu lleoedd yng Nghymru sydd â dros 70 wedi arwyddo o’r sector preifat, y sector cyhoeddus a’r trydydd sector gan addo eu hymrwymiad i gefnogi datblygiad lleoedd o ansawdd uchel.

Yn wir, rydym yn arbennig o falch o gyhoeddi fod Cyngor Abertawe yr ail awdurdod lleol yng Nghymru i ymrwymo i adeiladu yn ôl yn well trwy arwyddo Siarter Creu Lleoedd Cymru.  Cafodd y newyddion ei groesawu gan y Dirprwy Weinidog Tai a Llywodraeth Leol, Hannah Blythyn. Gallwch ddarllen mwy yma.

Diben y cylchlythyr hwn yw arddangos peth o’r gwaith gwych sy’n digwydd a rhannu mewnwelediad ac arfer orau ymysg cyd-weithwyr proffesiynol yn yr amgylchedd adeiledig. Mae’r argraffiad hwn yn cynnwys cyfraniadau oddi wrth sawl aelod o Bartneriaeth Creu Lleoedd Cymru a gynorthwyodd i ffurfio’r Siarter. Mae eu darnau wedi eu dylanwadu’n fawr iawn gan y cyfyngiadau parhaus yr ydym yn eu hwynebu oherwydd pandemig Covid-19 a sut mae hyn wedi siapio’r ffordd yr ydym yn gweld ein cartrefi a’n cymdogaethau. Mae’r erthyglau yn ymwneud â’r pynciau cartrefi, treftadaeth a chwarae ac rydym yn falch o gael dod ag astudiaeth achos newydd i chi sy’n mynd i’r afael â’r materion hyn i gyd. Cewch hefyd ddiweddariadau newydd a manylion o rai digwyddiadau sydd i ddod.

Mae’n glir bod creu lleoedd yn gofyn am ymrwymiad ac arbenigedd yr holl bobl hynny sy’n ymwneud â siapio’r amgylchedd adeiledig a naturiol, a dyma pam bod natur draws-ddisgyblaethol y siarter mor bwysig a pham yr ydym eisiau dod ag ysbrydoliaeth a diweddariadau i chi o sectorau na fyddech fel rheol efallai’n clywed ganddynt. Rwy’n edrych ymlaen am glywed eich adborth ac ystyried unrhyw awgrymiadau sydd gennych ar gyfer cynnwys y cylchlythyr yn y dyfodol – anfonwch e-bost ataf at

Dymuniadau gorau,



A story defined by home

Matt Dicks, Director CIH Cymru

Let’s all close our eyes for moment and imagine – imagine being a single parent during the Coronavirus lockdown, with two young children and living in a sixth-floor two-bedroom flat in the middle of a city with no green space nearby. The local shops are a 15-minute walk away with a baby in the pram and a toddler in tow, or do you risk a 5-min bus journey when there are several thousand new infections being reported every day.

Or imagine being a couple in a one-bed flat, both having to work from home, one in the bedroom, one on the kitchen-dinner table, and again no nearby green space and a long walk to the shops.

And there are many more examples I could list where the housing option and the design of the “place” where people are living are simply not fit-for-purpose in terms of coping with the demands of a lockdown imposed as a result of a global health emergency.

Sadly, some of you may not even have to imagine these scenarios, the pictures I paint may well be your lived experience during the past year.

But the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, if nothing else, have been a story defined by the home and our local environment because we have been consigned to them, in one way or another, for more than a year now.

The pandemic has shone an even brighter light on what we already knew to be the case, that in Wales we have an inadequate and broken housing system.  This has led to the need to temporarily house more than 5,000 people in Wales in bed & breakfast or hotel accommodation during the pandemic with the huge challenge of now finding them more permanent and sustainable homes as we navigate out of lockdown and aim to meet the Welsh Government’s ambition of none of these people being returned to homelessness. This is one symptom of a housing system which is buckling under the pressure of a chronic shortage of homes available at social rent. And this systemic and structural problem of supply is compounded by many poorly designed areas where the sense of place and more importantly a sense of agency within one’s own community is markedly lacking.

From a public health perspective, an Inside Housing Investigation demonstrated the correlation, during the first-wave of infections, between Covid-19 death rates and overcrowded housing, as well as increased mortality rates in HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupation)  settings, and in areas where there is a shortage of homes available at social rent which means many are forced into cramped temporary accommodation such as B&Bs etc.

In essence, it is a link between poverty (and the poor housing options and poorly designed environments available to people experiencing poverty) and an increased prevalence in infections and death rates.

Therefore, from a purely public health perspective, to ensure we’re equipped to cope with, heaven forbid, any future global pandemic we need to radically address our failed housing system which is fundamentally linked to how we think of and design “place”.

Coupled with that we also have the radical change in the way we now use our homes – for many of us they have also now become our workplace and are likely to remain that way for several years to come, if not on a permanent basis.

That is why, in our recent joint submission with Public Health Wales, to the Welsh Government’s “Beautiful Homes and Spaces” consultation on housing standards we called for:

  • A more holistic view of housing standards, recognising the need to ensure that standards reflect the impact the quality of a homes can have on both physical and mental well-being.
  • A focus on how lifestyles could change and the subsequent need to promote and enable active travel, reducing reliance on single-occupant car travel.
  • A focus on the role of ‘placemaking’ as a means to creating vibrant, accessible and inclusive environments that should go hand in hand with our expectations of housing standards.
  • A standard that applies across all tenures to create a joined-up vision of the homes and places created and support by a wide cross-section of housing development organisations.

If nothing else, the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we view the home – for many of us it is now our space for work as well as leisure – which means the centrality of home in the design of “place” takes on even more prominence in our post-COVID-19 world. It means all of us need to think differently about how our homes should be designed, the space standards that are now required, as well as what the local “place” needs to make our homes, communities and local environments fit for our new agile workforce.


Beyond parks and playgrounds

Marianne Mannello, Assistant Director, Play Wales

Play Wales recently held the Child-friendly planning and design: beyond TAN 16 seminar that brought together renowned speakers in the fields of children’s play, design, planning, rights and participation.  The seminar provided a brief overview of urban planning and how it relates to children and their play, with examples from the UK and around the world.  There was a focus on placing greater emphasis on children’s everyday lives and putting policy into practice.

Marianne Mannello is Assistant Director of Policy, Support and Advocacy for Play Wales. She explains: “A sense of place is important to help children and teenagers to feel part of their community and neighbourhood.   Quality residential design promotes community cohesion and should consider access to amenities and public spaces for all residents. It is therefore astonishing that all too often people, particularly children, come low down the priority list when it comes to new housing developments and there is often limited time given to thinking about how to generate community in new places.

“Children continue to tell us that outdoors is one of their favourite places to play. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the important role that access to good outdoor space has on health and well-being. Yet, when designing new housing developments or regenerating existing ones, the needs of children to play out, meet friends and get about safely are often overlooked.

“The seminar explored the impact that the planning process has in encouraging play and the positive social interactions it can generate in communities. It explored how we can work together to advocate for and enable the development of child friendly communities, thus contributing to healthier and happier childhoods. Although not easy, it is possible.

“The right skills are needed at the right stage of a project and the play sector in Wales has the expertise to galvanise and lead the way in thinking about how to work better for children. The emphasis on placemaking in Planning Policy for Wales supports a more holistic approach and there is a real opportunity to engage creatively across the play and planning sectors to learn from each other’s approaches and delivery models.

“Many of us have fond memories of growing up in a time when it was accepted that children, once they were old enough and confident enough to negotiate the outside world independently or with friends and siblings, played outside and ranged within their neighbourhoods freely. Children and teenagers across Wales are asking for the same – more time, space and permission to play in communities that care for them… that’s not too much to ask, surely?”

Further information is available at


Local Heritage in Placemaking

Judith Alfrey, Head of Regeneration and Conservation for Cadw

In a year of lockdowns, everyone has been thrown onto the resources of their immediate neighbourhood, an experience which has been a powerful reminder of the value of the local environment to communities. It has underlined the importance of supporting the development of high-quality places across Wales for the benefit of communities.

It has also perhaps enhanced the appeal of the concept of the 15-minute city, a place where everyone can meet most of their needs within just a short walk of their home. In the 15-minute city, people are reconnected with their local area, there is a strong sense of community, and less need for travel. Daily necessities and the services that support wellbeing are all within easy reach.

Cadw was inspired by this concept to think that everyone should be able to benefit from heritage within a 15-minute walk of their front door, wherever they live – whether city, town or countryside. Heritage is not always recognised that close to home: not everyone has a castle in their back yard and they may not even have a scheduled monument or a listed building nearby. But everywhere has a heritage of its own, and our 15-Minute Heritage initiative is intended to encourage people to step outside and explore the heritage on their doorstep.

We have begun by making use of StoryMap, a proprietary web-based platform which uses maps combined with narrative text, images, and other media to create digital stories of place.  The stories are being prepared by some of our own staff members, and will be made available on our website.

The premise of this story-telling is an invitation to go out and explore, and everywhere featured in the story should be publicly accessible on foot from a given starting point. The initiative therefore supports active travel, and the theme of movement which is one of the principles of the placemaking charter.

At the heart of the initiative is our belief that heritage makes places special and contributes to a unique identity.    Through telling stories of place, we can tease out the hidden histories, identify the attributes, and celebrate the culture from which distinctive identities are shaped.

In 2020 Cadw was also able to collaborate with the National Lottery Heritage Fund in a 15-minute heritage grant scheme.  Here, the invitation to explore was extended to local authorities and a range of third sector and community organisations leading small-scale projects helping to connect communities with heritage.  Projects in every local authority area in Wales are being supported through this scheme – their imaginative breadth is testament to the many ways in which local heritage may be defined and celebrated.

Exploring heritage in the streets and spaces of wherever we call home can be a way of strengthening attachment to place. But local heritage is about people as well as place:  every neighbourhood has been made and shaped by the people who have lived and worked there, and places take on meanings from the ways in which people experience and relate to them.  Sharing the exploration, and sharing these meanings, provides new opportunities for connecting people and place in local communities across Wales.


Evan James Memorial Caerphilly. One of our custodians has been finding out what puts Caerphilly on the map. It’s not just cheese and a castle:  within a short walk of the castle is a series of memorials to people from the town who have contributed to the history and culture of Wales. Evan James was the author of the lyrics of our National Anthem.


Case Study: Creating places that are safe, sustainable and attractive

Pobl tell us the placemaking story behind their proposed residential development in Newport.


Location: Land at Plot C1, Phoenix Park, Newport – Loftus Phase 2

Local Authority: Newport City Council

Client: Pobl Group

Design team:

  • Design: Hammond Architectural Ltd
  • Planning: Asbri Planning
  • Transport: Asbri Transport
  • Ecology: JBA Consultancy
  • Engineering: JBA Consultancy
  • Noise: Acoustic and Noise
  • Geotechnical: Integral Geotechnique
  • Landscape: Catherine Etchell Associates
  • Energy: Sero Homes & Energy
  • Manufacturing: Castleoak

Date of completion: TBC

Contract value: circa £11.4M

Site area: 1.89 hectares [4.67 acres]

Density: 29 units per hectare


People and Community

As with Loftus Garden Village, involving and engaging the local community is integral to this project.

From the outset Pobl Group outlined their aspirations to form a ‘natural extension’ to the award-winning Loftus Garden Village neighbourhood providing the new and existing community with an attractive place to come together, learn and grow.

Drawing on lessons learned from Phase 1 and informed by residents and stakeholder feedback, the attractive garden village, arts and craft style, green streets and kitchen garden network were identified as key components of the early concept designs.

As the project moves on, Pobl Group are committed to ongoing engagement which will include involving local schools, construction career engagement and regular community open site days. Pobl will also keep existing Loftus residents informed via regular updates on the dedicated Loftus website.

Opportunities to learn about sustainability, including enabling combustion free living, cutting-edge energy and drainage technology and biodiversity enhancement will form a central component to this engagement. In addition, employment and training opportunities will be created encouraging independence and inclusion in the community.


Understanding the place

Early identification of site constraints and opportunities informed the design process, helping to capture the full value of the site and create a development that is sustainable, accessible, and deliverable. The development is also strongly informed and directed by the original design principles generated for Loftus garden Village.

A good understanding of the context and character of the place was established during the Phase 1 development. The original garden village development was an opportunity to reflect on the past and create a new character for the area. Historic references to the site’s former uses were drawn upon, reflected in the naming of the development ‘Loftus’. The factory came to fame through Ruby Loftus, a young worker from Newport, who was painted by Dame Laura Knight to represent women at work for the war-time effort. The picture ‘Ruby Loft screwing a Breech-ring’, painted in 1943, was selected picture of the year at the Royal Academy Art show and attracted a considerable amount of public attention at that time.

Analysis of the site was prepared, guided and structured in accordance with the Welsh Government Site Context and Analysis Guide and TAN 12 Objectives of Good Design and informed the design from the outset.

A strong vision of place-led design principles was created to guide the development, building upon the success of the phase one development and championed the importance of low carbon living.

The site is sustainably located within an existing residential neighbourhood and is in walking distance of local amenities and schools. Key opportunities were identified to improve connectivity between the surrounding streets and community; address and enhance the “back land” nature of the site adjacent to the railway line; better integrate and connect natural elements; create spaces for leisure, social cohesion, and learning; locate, orientate and design for maximum solar gain; and champion lifetime homes principles and low carbon living.



The site will be served by a network of new and existing footpaths and cycleways that link to the wider area. The connecting routes will be attractive and comfortable, consistent with the encouragement of mobility for all.

A key pedestrian desire line exists between the two communities of Corporation Road and Somerton, via Soho Street underpass. The proposed scheme has enhanced this connect by realigning the existing PROW centrally through the site and providing an off-road pedestrian/cycle route straight though the heart of the site, along a new linear park.

Cycling is further promoted on the development with the integration of a Nextbike Station for public use on this route. Footpaths within the development actively connect and are further enhanced by the inclusion of green infrastructure throughout the development.


Mix of uses

The development will provide 54 homes comprising a mix of 1 bedroom apartments, 2 and 3 bedroom homes for social rent or shared ownership. Flexible ground floor design with two living areas gives the option to work from home. They will meet Welsh Government’ emerging ‘Beautiful Homes and Spaces’ Standards 2021.

The dwellings will sit in a well-connected network of open spaces comprising of different green space typologies. A comprehensive landscape, biodiversity and amenity strategy is proposed for the site, ensuring the integration of the development within wider open space, ecological and landscape features.

Additionally there will also be provision of community kitchen gardens that have worked successfully on Loftus Garden Village Phase One, providing space for people to come together and grow.


Public realm

Key concepts of placemaking, community focus, wellbeing and being closer to nature have driven the public realm strategy for the site.

The public realm and landscape proposals complement and extend the exceptional vision of the adjacent ‘Loftus’ development and exemplify the principles of a ‘Garden Village’ ethos.

The development will:

  • Provide a linear park providing an important cycling and walking link and opportunity for attractive planting.
  • Extend the Loftus ‘kitchen garden’ network for community food production and strengthen existing community initiatives by including a growing network.
  • Provide multi-functional open space for recreation, gatherings, events and food exchange.
  • Incorporate naturalistic, playful space with additional water attenuation allowing people to be close to nature, be active, or just sit in restful and restorative outdoor spaces.
  • Create doorstep play opportunities through creative public realm design, allowing children to develop and express themselves in a safe environment.
  • Embrace Green-Blue Street design principles creating attractive, safer environments and providing better environmental performance, integrating sustainable drainage and biodiversity benefit, while maximising opportunity for community interaction.
  • Incorporate planting that includes therapeutic species and that attract birds, insects and other wildlife.
  • Integrate rain gardens, further enhancing biodiversity, providing opportunity for tree avenues to balance the height of the houses, softening the street scene and improving microclimate.


Delivery structure

Pobl Group appointed a multidisciplinary team, including Hammond Architectural Ltd, to develop and design their Place-led vision for the site that embraces PPW10 and strive to meet the requirements of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015.

Both Pobl Group and Hammond Architectural Ltd are signatories to the Welsh Placemaking Charter and support and promote the six principles set out in the Charter.

As part of the ongoing design development process, the project team engaged with Newport Council officers and the Design Commission for Wales on how best to bring forward this site in a sustainable way.

A Section 2F – Pre Application Consultation Report (PAC) was prepared by Asbri Planning and feedback from this was taken on board where appropriate prior to submission.

The residential development will be brought forward by Pobl Group, an established, not for profit, social care and housing provider in Wales.

Collaboration with local suppliers, using Design for Manufacture principles established through partnership working and intelligent procurement are key features.

Collaborating with Wales-based off-site manufacturer Castleoak, the homes are ‘designed for manufacture’ with the aim of mainstreaming modern methods of construction (MMC). The design approach aims to maximise efficiency, flexibility and performance at every part of the supply, manufacture and delivery chain and recognizes that a good design interface can achieve good placemaking whilst also employing off-site/MMC.


Policy News

Future Wales

The Welsh Government published Future Wales: The National Plan 2040 on 24 February making it the first ever national development plan in the United Kingdom.

Future Wales is a long term plan setting out the Welsh Government’s strategic spatial outcomes; it integrates a wide range of policy goals; has been developed through a four year programme of extensive engagement and assessment; and its delivery will be driven by collaboration across the public, private and third sector.

Some of the main policy elements of Future Wales are:

  • Strategic growth should be focused in three national growth areas. Not all parts of Wales are expected to grow equally. Future Wales determines that growth should be focussed in established built up areas and in certain other places. In some growth areas there is a requirement to establish Green Belts to manage growth. National growth areas are complemented by regional growth areas spread throughout Wales.
  • A strong emphasis on sustainable placemaking. City and town centres will benefit from a town centre first policy which relates to commercial, retail, education, health and public service facilities.
  • In rural areas, growth patterns should be determined locally reflecting need.  The character, service provision and accessibility of places should determine the aspirations and plans for growth.  Future Wales prioritises vibrancy and quality of life over the pursuit of growth for its own sake.
  • Future Wales identifies where and how new major renewable energy development will be acceptable. This reflects the Welsh Government’s strong commitment to tackling climate change and the declaration of a climate emergency. It also identifies priority areas for district heat networks.
  • Future Wales sets out a framework for regional planning, identifying what Strategic Development Plans should look like and the policy areas they must address.
  • Flood risk in the growth areas should be addressed in a strategic way, while the plan places a strong emphasis on developing resilient ecological networks and green infrastructure.
  • There is a strong focus on delivering active travel, metro schemes and improving national connectivity. The transport policies complement the emerging Wales Transport Strategy – Llwybr Newydd.
  • A clear focus on the delivery of affordable housing helping to ensure that everyone has access to good housing.
  • Support for enhanced digital communications and a commitment to identify Mobile Action Zones where there is little or no mobile telecommunications coverage.
  • Support for the emerging National Forest, which will evolve over multiple sites across Wales.

Development management decisions, Strategic and Local Development Plans, planning appeals and all other work directed by the development plan will need to accord with Future Wales. This will ensure the planning system is aligned at all levels to work together to help achieve our objectives.

Future Wales provides clear direction for regional planning, requiring the preparation of Strategic Development Plans in the North, Mid Wales, South West and South East. The publication of Future Wales marks the beginning of this process, the implementation of Future Wales is key to ensure we achieve these outcomes.

Planning Policy Wales edition 11 changes

The publication of Future Wales has led to updates to Planning Policy Wales to ensure both documents align. The changes reflect wider legislative, policy and guidance updates along with:

  • Information about the Placemaking Wales Charter and the importance of requiring active travel and public transport infrastructure early in the development process.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic and Welsh Government’s Building Better Places document which pinpoints the most relevant planning policy priorities and actions to aid in the recovery. 

News in brief