'Place-shaping' is now widely understood to describe the ways in which local players collectively use their influence, powers, creativity and abilities to create attractive, prosperous and safe communities, places where people want to live, work and do business.
Place-shaping is a highly important concept for those involved in building new communities to understand - whether or not there are existing residents in the area. The volume of new housing compared to the number of existing homes, where they exist, will be large. Their development will affect the character of a place and therefore this is a process that needs to be managed.
Place shaping is not just a nice idea, and it is not optional. It is being backed up with:
- a new focus on economic development and economic purpose for communities
- new statutory arrangements
- new architecture for managing place - shaping through local strategic partnerships
- new institutional arrangements with new ways of working (the Homes and Communities Agency)
- new local measures of success of place-shaping.
New focus on economic development
A fundamental principle underpinning place-shaping is the idea that every place should have an identity and a function - and in particular an economic purpose. New Local Enterprise Partnerships are developing new arrangements for sub-regional working to integrate economic development with a range of other functions.
New statutory arrangements
New statutory arrangements have made local authorities in partnership with local strategic partnerships (LSPs) the key local agencies responsible for 'place shaping'. Where substantial new developments take place key players who are involved in building new communities and ongoing stewardship - from public and private sectors and residents - should be represented on the LSP.
Decentralisation and Localism
The Central-Local Protocol was put in place by the 1997-2010 government. The new government has continued this shift to devolve more powers from central to local government, and powers and responsibilities are set out in the Localism Bill.
In some areas, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) are being used to agree priorities for action across a number of authorities with private sector engagement, where they are demonstrating that they are working together effectively.
The Local Development Framework (LDF) is the vehicle through which spatial plans are developed and delivered. As far as possible they need to be aligned to the Sustainable Community Strategy so that they support its delivery.
Neighbourhood planning is a key part of the Localism Bill.
New institutional arrangements
The objectives and functions of the Homes and Communities Agency embrace a broad approach to developing sustainable communities and are geared to making place-shaping a reality. Its relationship with local authorities and other local players will be established in Local Investment Plans, which will focus on the ambitions of localities and of functional sub regions. The Homes and Communities Agency will offer funding and skills in line with these ambitions.
New requirements for gathering evidence
Local authorities are now being expected to undertake an annual Place Survey to gather evidence of residents' requirements and aspirations. They are also now required to undertake a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment which will provide evidence of local needs across a range of functions. This will support local authorities and LSPs to deliver their place-shaping role effectively.