James Fisher – Property & News Editor, Country Life
Nick Robinson – Senior Associate Director in Commercial Placemaking & Masterplanning, BNP Paribas Real Estate
Sarah Curtis – Senior Director in London New Homes,Strutt & Parker
Ed Mansel Lewis – Director in Canterbury, Strutt & Parker
2020 has seen many communities move online due to the pandemic, but real placemaking is about physical communities and people connecting with each other in a physical way, not just virtually. At its core, placemaking is about improving places, no matter how big or small, for the end user to enjoy.
Much has been said in recent months about the rise of localism throughout lockdown. In the absence of office life, many people have been re-engaging with their local communities since they’ve been unable to spend face-to-face time with their work ‘community’, with whom they used to spend a great deal of their time. As a result, new home workers have been connecting more with their neighbours and local businesses within walking distance of their homes.
It remains to be seen whether this will be a long-term structural shift or more of a short term change in behaviour, but it seems that many of us have re-evaluated our work/life balance as a result of the pandemic.
Urban developers have been focused on placemaking for many years, with each new residential development (often featuring a retail, office or leisure offering alongside), they strive to build a community which fits in well with its wider location and makes a positive contribution to it. Modern day developments often incorporate gyms, communal social areas and co-working spaces for residents.
Thanks to technology and superfast broadband improvements, Strutt & Parker has also started to see a rise in rural co-working spaces. The firm has been involved in the regeneration of many estates and farms into thriving hubs in beautiful, natural surroundings – featuring quality office space in converted barns or outbuildings next door to complementary businesses such a Pilates and yoga studios. These kind of places bring rural communities together and drive further investment into the countryside.
Ultimately, this episode concludes that placemaking is about building and sustaining communities through real-life connection, whether that’s in a rural or urban environment, at home or at work.