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What is placemaking?

December, 2019

Placemaking might not be a word you use everyday – or maybe aren’t familiar with – but it is almost certainly something you appreciate and enjoy the results of. Alison Hardy, Account Director at Kent PR agency Maxim, explains more.

Placemaking is officially defined as ‘a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of communities and public spaces, capitalising on a local community’s assets, inspiration and potential with the intention of creating an environment that promote people’s health, happiness and well-being.’

In other words, designing somewhere with a sense of identity that provides its community with an attractive, healthy place to live and which engenders pride and a sense of place. A place that provides for its very first residents and visitors just as much as for those in years to come, without compromising the natural environment. 

This is achieved through careful masterplanning, design and construction, with key elements being place, functionality, sustainability, inclusivity and beauty.

Place: everywhere has its own history, points of interest and character and reference to this in the design gives a sense of place, identity and custodianship, creating a strong relationship between people and place.

Functionality: it goes without saying that we all want the place where we live and work to be well-functioning, ideally with protected space for pedestrians and cyclists and provision for day to day needs, including places to socialise, shop, exercise and enjoy leisure time.

Sustainability: green spaces are essential to our wellbeing and encourage us to spend time outdoors – walking, playing, exercising or simply enjoying the fresh air. Biodiversity, ecological initiatives and involvement of the community in their surroundings all help consolidate a sense of ownership and pride in the local environment for this, and generations to come.

Inclusivity: or, to put it another way, community engagement. Whilst it can’t be a free for all it is politic to involve those using the development to help shape it and ensure it has something for everyone as well as being inviting and accessible for all to enjoy, whatever their age or background.

Beauty: who doesn’t want to live in an attractive place they can be proud of and consequently take care of.

Placemaking at Kings Hill

One example of placemaking that is close to our hearts and which we have been involved with for many years is Kings Hill near Maidstone. It is being developed by Liberty Property Trust and Kent County Council on the site of the former RAF West Malling, previously a flat, featureless airfield – albeit with important military credentials. 

It is now a sustainable, landscaped environment for homes and businesses with shops (including Waitrose), cafes, restaurants, a pub, three schools, golf course and numerous community and leisure amenities in a village centre within walking distance.

Each area has its own distinctive character and particular attention has been paid to respecting the site’s heritage, including an immaculately restored art deco Control Tower and many public artworks commemorating its history and the bravery of those who were based there – including Group Captain Guy Gibson.

It now has a real community feeling and was named the UK’s most successful new village by an independent survey by international property consultants, CBRE, which praised the way it was masterplanned to create a clear sense of community. 

Liberty is also developing the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, in partnership with Countryside. It is one of the world’s leading healthcare and biomedical research centres and, as in Kings Hill, its development is underpinned by careful masterplanning and placemaking.

Alison Hardy - Account Director

Alison Hardy

Maxim / Account Director

posted in: maxim/client news,

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