Leeds showcases city’s approach to placemaking

Colleagues from Leeds City Council have been showcasing Leeds’ approach to placemaking at the international conference, Healthy City Design 2020, which saw over 400 delegates come together to discuss how public health professionals, designers, architects and planners can work together to create healthier cities.

Leeds City Council’s Principal Design Officer, Jenny Fisher, alongside Advanced Health Improvement Specialist, Lizzie Greenwood, were selected by the conference to talk about Leeds’ innovative approach to placemaking for resilient communities.

This covered how the Council had put in place a bespoke training resource for Council Officers, locally elected Politicians, Developers and Place-Shapers, which brings together the collective knowledge and experience with existing policies, guidance and research. The training covers key elements of placemaking including site selection, existing character, green infrastructure, density and, since the pandemic, has been expanded to include sustainable travel and connectivity to local community greenspace.

Another important element to Leeds’ approach has been a recent research project which has underpinned the city’s ambition to become the most active city in England with the aim to develop a shared vision that will encourage and enable everyone in Leeds to move more every day.

This has led to the development of a walking action plan for the city, built on the foundations of the research, which includes the mapping of walking routes across the city to successfully deliver low-traffic neighbourhood schemes in priority neighbourhoods with the aim of creating safe, healthy spaces where communities can connect.

The presentation also highlighted how the collaborative working across the Council’s departments Planning, Design and Public Health, has enabled improvements in sustainable placemaking by providing the necessary evidence and influencing developers and investors.

A number of case studies from Leeds were showcased to delegates including the sustainable Climate Innovation District and Kirkstall Forge which encourages walking and cycling with green connections to the new railway station, riverside walks and pocket parks.

Commenting on the event Jenny Fisher said: “Building healthy spaces and places where active travel and outdoor activity are an easy choice will build community relationships and contribute enormously to reducing inequalities in health and promoting healthy lives for all.

“The World Health Organisation believes that local councils can have their most important long term effect on health, through the decisions they take about spatial planning’”

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