HOW PLACEMAKING AND EARLY CONSULTATION CAN STREAMLINE APPROVALS PROCESSES
Paul Cunningham and Forbes Chesterman from Rowe Group’s Design Studio attended Placemaking Week in Amsterdam in early October. Paul and Forbes were fortunate to collaborate with placemakers, planners, architects and designers from all over the world. One of the primary principles of placemaking, which was a constant theme throughout Placemaking Week, is community consultation and engagement.
Community consultation, as part of the placemaking discipline, can assist developers in achieving a more positive and expeditious outcome. The study tour to Delft in the south of The Netherlands as part of Placemaking Week provided Paul with an opportunity to experience placemaking in practice by participating in a “place game”. Central Delft, which is situated between Rotterdam and The Hague, was segregated by an overground railway which dissected the city centre. The recent sinking of the railway line and construction of a new central railway station (which also houses the Delft Municipal Council offices) has provided the city with a unique redevelopment space.
With any (re)development space comes both opportunities and constraints. As part of the “place game” in Delft, conference delegates were separated into six (6) teams each working on six (6) spaces within the redevelopment area (also known as the “Spoorzone”). Each of the spaces lacked a sense of place. Part of the “place game” exercise included a short interview with a passer-by or user of the railway station precinct to gather thoughts and ideas (both positive and negative) about how the assigned space could be activated and better utilised. This stakeholder consultation is a critical component of placemaking and focuses on one of the basic principles of the discipline – strengthening the connections between people and the places they share.
This basic principle of placemaking can be applied to any development. Engagement and consultation at the formulation phase of a development can result in greater community support and can streamline approvals processes provided the consultation feedback (thoughts and ideas) are incorporated into the development or as part of an upgrade to the public realm in proximity to the proposed development. Benefits to the developer may include a more marketable product and streamlined approvals processes, and the benefits to the community may include a sense of ownership over newly created places with improvements to public infrastructure.