Placemaking: ‘Pre’ development challenges & considerations

March 13, 2018 • 2 minute read

As part of our ‘Placemaking: Buzzword or Brand builder?’ campaign, we are exploring the role of Placemaking brand and communications through the lens of the traditional development process – from planning permission through to legacy.

Today, we begin with our top four brand and communications considerations and challenges in the ‘Pre’ development phase:

  • Establishing roles and responsibilities: Placemaking succeeds when the public and private sector collaborate in developing a compelling vision and distinct set of values for a place, which is in turn reflected in and complemented by the built environment. Developing clear lines of communication and resilient partnerships is therefore key.
  • Identifying the identity: The identity of a place will evolve over time; places have a history and a future. In strategic and practical terms, from Local Plan to Developer’s proposal, the brand of a place must seek to reflect this fluid reality. Branding professionals can help articulate the identity of a place in relation to both its heritage and its aspirations, helping embed a development within the local area.
  • Telling the business case: Placemaking is often centred on projecting the business case for and community impact of a development. Successfully articulating a place’s aims and aspirations, in line with community needs, plays a critical role in helping navigate the planning permission process. In addition, developing an engaging ‘story’ for place can be central to attracting and retaining investor buy-in.
  • Engaging communities: The end-user, the real people who will live and work in a place, are too often left out of the placemaking conversation, or seen as a hindrance to a development’s progress. It doesn’t have to be this way. Working in partnership with local communities from an early stage will create a place that reflects its people’s values, needs and aspirations. Whether or not the word ‘placemaking’ is used explicitly as a term to guide this partnership is less important. Authenticity is key; listen to and be guided by local feedback.


At the same time as navigating these issues, Placemakers also need to be savvy to the role of the media. Here’s our ‘Media Watch’ top tip for the ‘Pre’ development phase.

Local media coverage will shape public opinion, helping make or break a proposed development’s progress through the planning phase and into construction. Local media interest must be managed carefully and respectfully. Having effective messages that reflect a place’s story, and empathetic spokespeople capable of communicating that message in a way that reassures and engages local communities, will significantly influence local buy-in and help mitigate risk of negative press coverage. Local media need not be your enemy.

Click below to download the full report ‘Placemaking: Buzzword or Brand builder?’

Download Placemaking report