New placemaking charter aims for better-designed homes for region’s communities

August 4, 2022

An ambitious project calling for homes being built in Bristol and across the West of England to be high quality, well-designed and affordable has been launched.

The Placemaking Charter will bring together the region’s councils and other public authorities, developers, communities and partners under a shared ambition to create places that communities deserve, ensuring that happiness, health and wellbeing are placed at their heart. 

It has been developed by the Bristol-based centre for excellence for buildings and places Design West in partnership with the region’s four local authorities and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

More than 200 other stakeholders across the region, including community groups, developers and experts from across the built environment profession, were involved in drafting the charter.

It is based on five core principles for healthy, happy places that will have a positive impact on the region’s efforts to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies. These are:

• Future-ready

• Connected

• Biodiverse

• Characterful

• Healthy and inclusive

Design West director Dr Anna Rutherford, pictured, said: “Great placemaking takes collaboration and a shared vision. 

“The West of England has led the way in partnership working across the region, across sector and society, to develop a Placemaking Charter that sets out our shared ambitions and expectations for future development.

“The charter is a critical tool in championing quality homes and healthy lives for all, whilst rising to the challenge of the Climate Emergency.”

Metro Mayor Dan Norris, who leads WECA, added: “The West of England is an amazing place to grow up and grow old in, but I know it can be even better and central to this is setting some really ambitious principles for the places we want to see and create.

“Building a strong and sustainable future requires getting serious about how we design the buildings we live and meet in and the infrastructure that ties us all together.”

The charter was launched at a gathering at Design West’s Bristol Harbourside base, where it was endorsed by some of the region’s leading planning and development experts.

WECA chief executive Dr Patricia Greer was joined at the event by the government’s chief planner Joanna Averley, president of the Royal Town Planning Institute Tim Crashaw, director of Design West Dr Anna Rutherford and senior leaders from the region’s development industry.

More than 30 organisations signed up to charter’s principles at the launch, which was followed by an evening event on ‘levelling up’ and design ambitions for the West of England, hosted by Design West and attended by 120 members of the public and representatives across architecture, planning and the wider development industry.

Design West, which rebranded last year from its original name of The Architecture Centre, was founded in 1996 with a mission is to inspire the public, politicians and professionals across the built environment to design better, healthier places to live, work and relax.

Its programmes includes Bristol Open Doors, Shape My City, Design Review and public talks that are devised to inspire, inform and involve people in the design of the world around them.

Pictured at launch of the Placemaking Charter, from left: Catherine Turner, Head of High Growth, Homes England; David Waterhouse, Head of Design & Planning Reform, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; Dr Patricia Greer, Chief Executive, West of England Combined Authority; Joanna Averley, Chief Planner, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Resilience and Floods, Bristol City Council; Laura Ambler, Head of Regional Planning & Housing, West of England Combined Authority; Dr Anna Rutherford, Director, Design West. Photograph © Paul Blakemore

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