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Planning Education and the Profession

Placemaking Toolkit for Wales: Improving the public realm in our towns and cities

Public Space Toolkit for Wales: Improving the public realm in our towns and cities

Research Team:

A joint venture from the Public Space Observatory Research Centre, School of Geography and Planning and Welsh School of Architecture. The team includes a multidisciplinary group of architects, planners, urban designers, architectural and urban historians, and human geographers.

Led by Patricia Aelbrecht, with Francesca Sartorio, Wes Aelbrecht, Michael Corr, Richard Gale, Jessica Richmond, Sanjeev Kumar, Sam Rule.


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Delivering Placemaking through Planning Policy Wales (Credit: PPW 11, p 21)

This project aimed to co-produce a Placemaking Toolkit for Wales with a partnership between a multidisciplinary team of academics and practitioners, four Welsh LPAs, the Design Commission for Wales (DCfW), the Urban Design Group (UDG) and Living Streets to support the implementation of the Placemaking Wales Charter guidelines within local government practices with a focus on improving the quality of the public realm in town and city centres. Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Swansea and Wrexham County Councils (Figure 1) were the four LPAs chosen for this co-production exercise because they were selected by the Welsh Government as pilot areas in a £15.2 million placemaking funding package, which provided them the tools to accelerate the institutional changes needed to deliver the holistic and interdisciplinary goals introduced by the placemaking agenda in Wales.

Map of four LAs in Wales (Credit: authors)


The ultimate goal of this project was to deliver a tested Toolkit encompassing a set of problem-based, user-friendly, cross-sectoral guidelines catering for different scales and morphologies in supporting primarily the work of the four LAs. These included: a placemaking (local) knowledge map and links to existing design and management guidance, case studies/precedents, and templates that can effectively layer implementation and monitoring of placemaking at a local level within the existing Welsh legal and policy context.

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Orchard Street’s public realm regeneration, Swansea (Credit: authors)

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Swansea’s new coastal park (Credit: authors)

This Toolkit will directly benefit the four LAs chosen as partners and case studies and has the prospect of benefiting all Welsh LPAs by helping to effectively streamline Welsh Government policy on placemaking, sharing available guidance across sectors, effectively involving all relevant stakeholders, and ultimately play a key role in shaping placemaking practices that are holistic and inclusive.   

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Church Street, Wrexham (Credit: Element Urbanism)

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Porth Transport Hub redevelopment (Credit: RCT)