Can Authenticity and Independence Drive Regeneration?

Eighty Twenty is Partisan’s regular roundtable event. It is a dynamic roundtable discussion, involving business leaders connected with the built environment.

Highlighted in this week’s discussion were concepts of authenticity and independence, and whether they could drive regeneration.

The Scale of the Challenge

Regeneration and growth occur at various levels: micro, meso and macro.

Contributors for successful regeneration can occur even at the smallest, micro level. This is where authenticity makes a huge difference.

The notion of authenticity is important in driving regeneration, because it draws on both a sense of shared heritage and a feeling of unforced organic, growth.

Authenticity can, then, work in a developments favour, providing they tap into it in the right way to harness its potential.

How One Business Makes a Difference

How do you identify the catalysts that will work to develop an area such as a regional town?

Recognition can be a catalyst, if it means a building that resonates with people.

Sometimes, all it takes is for one independent business to bring its own identity to an area and, in so doing, help shape the narrative.

An example of just such a business acting this way is in Ancoats, with Rudy’s pizza restaurant.

Here is a business that sets the tone for the local community, and in doing so, has helped to define the area it is in. Contributing to a real sense of place.

We learned how Rudy’s had originally received support from Homes England to buy their pizza oven. This kind of support from a public authority is one example of how you can grow the local economy and culture from a grass roots level.

This is what independent businesses can do as part of a development, and it makes sense, therefore, for developments to champion them.

A catalyst need not always be a game-changing idea, but just the right idea, in the right place, at the right time.

Building for Communities

Another discussion point: how do you build en masse without resorting to designing the same old residential housing?

There must be value placed on good design, not just the aesthetics of a building, but also its longevity. Good developments need to be built to last, providing quality over a longer lifespan.

Currently, another important topic being discussed is the level of density necessary to meet the 200,000+ additional housing required outlined in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Density is not a dirty word, as explained by our panellist Danny Crump. It does not necessarily have to mean high-rise solutions.

In Barcelona, there is a concentration of 500 dwellings per hectare, however the buildings are no taller than four storeys. Just as much, if not more, consideration is required to the spaces between the buildings – and how they should function.

Again, back to authenticity. Is it possible to build at the required urban levels of growth without losing that sense of authenticity?

And independence: who will occupy these developments, to make them feel more authentic, is there a minimum level required to include independent businesses?

Engaging Stakeholders

How do proposed developments cope with NIMBYism?

People have a sense of attachment to an area, which means imposing a new development on it can feel like a threat.

Early engagement isn’t just about securing a successful planning application; it is essential to good placemaking.

What can be included within a new development that will help people accept it and, ultimately, adopt it as an authentic part of the local area?

Proper Placemaking

There isn’t a shortcut to placemaking.

It takes time and effort, and it requires multiple layers of engagement and interaction. It is a dedicated skill in its own right.

Proper placemaking happens over time. It should end in developments that can accommodate change as well as generate a sense of community ownership.

Authenticity and heritage can work in a developments favour if they embrace the difference between imposing a scheme on a location and allowing a culture to evolve there and to take ownership of its area.

Independent businesses can help to create this sense of natural, cultural growth, and this must be a consideration.

There must be engagement with stakeholders in the local area from day one.

This week’s guests and comments

Guests at this Partisan Eighty Twenty roundtable included:

Danny Crump, Broadway Malyan
Rory Dillon, Fletcher Bond
Emma Smyth, Homes England
Jason Eccles, Artform
Mark Graham, LDA Design
Anthony Boothman, Workman
Colin Matley, Currie & Brown
Chris Norwood, Rochdale Development Agency

“Great round table session this morning with Partisan discussing Greater Manchester, distinctiveness, identity and the balance between authenticity and growth.”
Danny Crump

“Really enjoyed the discussion this morning and great to meet everyone there. Thanks to Daniel and William at Partisan for arranging the session.”
Chris Norwood

“Thanks to all involved, really enjoyable and engaging discussion.  Good to see a cross section of the industry around the table….and all largely in agreement!”
Jason Eccles

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