Sustainable Places = Sustainable Communities
Tuesday 30 March 2010
The People Changing Places programme aims to improve regional demand and capacity for
high quality urban design by engaging communities in an intensive and cohesive programme
of creative and practical activities. The City of York Council wants to improve public realm in
the city and will be creating a public realm strategy to support this.
Sustainable Places = Sustainable Communities was the culmination of the one-year People
Changing Places programme based in York. This event was the final milestone to share
good practice from the programme and from across the country to a national audience.
The aim of the conference was to explore how to creatively engage communities in
the regeneration of their towns and cities.
• Raise awareness about York’s future vision and the PCP programme
• Raise awareness about sustainable communities
• Provide an opportunity for a cross section of professionals and community members to
• Explore how local talents and energies can be unlocked in our cities
• Deliver a practical and creative conference
The conference attracted 64 delegates from across the country including: York, Derby, North
East Lincolnshire, Newcastle, Kirklees, Coventry, Lancashire, Calderdale, Burnley and
Leeds amongst others.
Delegates included representatives from: arts, culture, heritage, regeneration, Local
Authorities (traffic, environment, planning, development, business, economics), renaissance,
built environment, landscape architecture, community leaders, Society for Blind People,
community based services amongst others.
Prior to the conference delegates were asked to bring an image representing ‘their
community’ which were then displayed throughout the day to stimulate more conversations.
Beam also created a tag on Twitter adding links to speaker websites and interesting case
studies. Throughout the event Mike Cooper from Cooper Creative interviewed delegates and
speakers and uploaded key quotes from speakers and questions from delegates. This
enabled others to interact with the conference and add their own questions and case studies
even when they couldn’t be there and has the possibility to act as a space for further debate
for delegates after the event. Over 2,500 people saw the tweets with a number of interactive
Beam invited built environment professionals and community leaders to contribute:
Helen Farrar, CABE Regional Representative Chaired the conference. After introducing the
event the Chair talked about the Egan Wheel for Sustainable Communities and tasked
delegates with creating a new wheel for Sustainable Places by the end of the day.
David Warburton, Head of Design and Conservation and Sustainable Development for the
City of York Council provided a warm welcome to delegates and an overview of their
approach to the sustainable development of York.
David Hills, Architect DSDHA and Jane Field, Head of Programmes and Services Beam
presented good practice from the People Changing Places programme focussing on the
YourSpace event. Alison Sinclair who participated throughout most of the PCP programme
talked about her experience. “After participating in the programme I came to the
conclusion that it would be wrong to put it back to how it was and I’m now open to
taking it forward” Alison Sinclair PCP participant.
Martyn Coltman, Chairman of the Bridlington Renaissance Partnership and Bridlington Town
Team delivered an interesting presentation about investing in the public realm focusing on
the Town Team/renaissance approach. “Culture leads Renaissance” Martyn Coltman.
Alison Drake, Chairman of the Castleford Heritage Trust delivered an inspirational
presentation about communities taking the lead and her personal role as a champion. “Get
people behind a dream” Alison Drake.
Keynote speaker George Ferguson, Former President RIBA and Chairman Acanthus
Ferguson Mann Architects explored how to create sustainable places and engage people in
the design process. “My only rule is don’t be afraid to break the rules” George
All speaker presentations can be found at:
http://www.slideshare.net/BeamOrangery/presentations or http://p-c-p.squarespace.com
Within all the workshops, delegates were tasked with considering three key elements that
could feed into a new ‘wheel for Sustainable Places’.
Creative Engagement was facilitated by David Hills and Jane Field.
Delegates were given a scenario for a large development site where there was a lot of
resistance from the local community. Delegates worked in groups to develop a programme
of creative engagement.
Key comments from the session:
• Engaging with schools – young people and through them parents
• Local design competitions to decide own futures
• Specific events to engage all – a road show to take consultation out to people
• Unlocking local characters over a longer period to make it sustainable
• Don’t let professionals drive what was coming out of the community
One delegate stated they had gained an “understanding of consultation” and another said
they gained “a view of the process from a different angle”.
Unlocking Local Talents, Alison Drake
Delegates went speed dating to find out everyone’s perspective on ‘how to unlock local
talents’. After this delegates participated in a group discussion.
Key comments from the session:
• Value the local culture and don’t be afraid to call it a talent/gift
• Be prepared to share power (even with money)
• Shared ownership - all in together the good and bad elements
• Open up communication flow – listen to people with talent
• Recognise everyone’s talents and gifts – artistic, business, local knowledge etc
• Collective memory of individuals
Feedback included delegates “Gaining an understanding of the passion and talent that
exists in not only communities but also in professionals in their desire to make sure talents
are seen and heard”.
The Impact of Investing in Public Spaces, Martyn Coltman
Martyn provided a more detailed insight about the investment in Bridlington and then
delegates explored key issues in pairs.
Key comments from the session:
• Leadership – based around individual
• Succession – how will it be sustained?
• Assets – identify current assets
• Have a legacy – develop ownership and memory
• Never run out of projects
• If it comes from the community then it sustains interest and involvement
One delegate stated that “Succession was the most key point and the most difficult to
Sustainable Futures, George Fergusson
Delegates were asked to consider pros and cons for a new edge-of-town supermarket and
explore how this would affect the local community.
Key comments from the session:
• Ensure unbiased creative engagement
• Sustainable principles of energy, waste, resources, transport.
• Connectivity and communication
• Ameliorate impact by mix of uses. Restrict impact.
One delegate commented that they had gained “an understanding of how building design
should not just concentrate on a limited space, but should also engage the surrounding area
and people” and another stated “It was helpful because I found out more about
sustainability, I understand that if we want quality of life we need to continue improvement”.
New Wheel for Creating Sustainable Places
* Created by delegates
The majority of people felt that the content was relevant and that the conference was
delivered in a format that suited their learning style. All delegates rated the event as a 4/5 as
enjoyable and informative. Most delegates stated that the workshops they attended were
Nearly all delegates said they had heard examples of different approaches to engaging
communities in the regeneration of their towns and cities. One delegate commented that it
was “interesting to hear speakers talking about their own experiences” and that they were
One key element of the event was bringing a cross section of people together and all
delegates who fed back felt that they had the opportunity to network with people from
different sectors and from across the country. One person commented that they had “met an
architect and others that shared opinions about sustainability and getting to know what their
process is and they have offered help if I have any queries in the future”.
We also asked delegates what they felt they had gained from attending the event and how
they would use what they had learned. We received a number of comments about how the
speakers were inspirational which had given them the confidence to share ideas, push
forward community policies and encourage people to ‘really’ engage communities in
regeneration. Others stated that they will cascade the information to their colleagues and
that the event had “broadened my knowledge about the importance of involving communities
and sustainable issues in design”.
Other comments included that the event was well organised, informative and friendly.
We also questioned those who had previously participated in the PCP programme about
their experience: “has broadened my outlook”, “Inspirational”, “enlightening, enjoyable and
good networking”. However, there was one delegate who felt that the YourSpace structure
had no relevance to its environment.
At the end of the conference Helen Farrar posted the question “How do you keep vision
going?” and commented that the idea of town team has important role to play. The Chair
reminded delegates to learn from one another and most importantly use what is already
there but make sustainable.