Case Study: Prescot Market Place

PLACED were commissioned by the Prescot Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) to engage local communities in the redesign of Market Place, an significant but currently underused space in the town centre. The consultation provided the basis of the brief for a design competition, with construction work to be undertaken in 2017.

Over three months, PLACED developed and delivered consultation events and activities designed to enable as many people as possible to feed into the future of this key space. This included hands-on creative workshops for the community, an exhibition and family activities alongside traditional engagement tools and techniques.

The process resulted in the production of a comprehensive report, along with an Final report Exec Summary and Final report Recommendations which will form the basis of the design brief going to out competition in 2017.

Client aims

  • Deliver independent, genuine stakeholder consultation to as broad a cross section of the local population as possible in order to identify uses and users for Market Place, gather ideas and raise aspirations
  • Use a range of consultation approaches, recognising that a traditional approach would not suit everyone
  • Take a ‘bottom up’ rather than ‘top down’ approach, with stakeholder engagement enabling the implementation of a design informed by local people
  • Ensure the design responds to community views and local need, rather than being a blank canvas
  • Have a clear evidence and feedback that can inform the design brief
  • Have a positive social impact on participants, including supporting skill development.

Approach

  • PLACED developed a strong project brand and promotional materials to increase awareness of the engagement process and investment
  • Structured design workshops were delivered for key groups including primary and secondary schools and older residents. Site visits, looking at inspiring precedents to inform design ideas, discussion and model making were used to explore participant priorities for the site and draw out key recommendations
  • Traditional methods of consultation, including a well-received survey and discussions at community events were held alongside family events including a Treasure Hunt and Design Slams, ensuring local people had a wide range of routes through which to engage with the project and share their views
  • Ideas developed by and received from local people were shared in an accessible way at the well attended community event, using local people’s work and words rather than those of professionals to stimulate debate and generate additional feedback
  • All activities were supported by our extensive team of skilled and talented volunteer Ambassadors; design professionals including architects, landscape architects, interior designers and university students experienced in working with the public. The team helped to structure discussion and explain project parameters to help ensure ideas were ambitious yet feasible. As volunteers, the team brought significant added value.

Outcomes

  • Positive, well received engagement activities which resulted in increasing awareness of investment and enabling people to input into the design process. There was very little negative feedback during the process and significant community reach was achieved
  • Comprehensive, independently produced report which provided detailed evaluation along with clear recommendations and an outline design brief that will support the project going forward
  • Establishment of the priorities for the future of the space and identification of real opportunities and challenges as identified defined by local people, resulting in a scheme that is place specific
  • Evidence and outcomes that benefit the THI when reporting back to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the main project funder, including supporting skill development, increased knowledge, significant in-kind volunteer contribution and enjoyment of activities.

Client feedback

Outcomes of the activities for the organisation and participants

  • We got the information we wanted, but in an engaging and fun way, which in turn can only help with local buy-in to our project. By using an independent consultant to carry out the work there was no distraction for the participants of ‘the council’ being at the events and in turn the report and feedback we received has credibility. 
  • The flexible approach used by PLACED meant we reached a large number of people by varying forms of engagement – the programme suited the participants as far as possible by being at different times of day / week and in different venues, and choosing times when more people than usual would be in Prescot. 

Additional comments

  • With PLACED I never had the feeling that we had a fixed amount of hours, they were committed to a limited number of meetings or visits to Prescot, or that they would only spend a set amount of hours preparing materials or the report. Instead it was much more like a collaboration – PLACED had bought fully into what we were trying to achieve and were helping us achieve this with their skills, time and experience. It felt like PLACED had genuinely taken ownership of the project and was focusing on the qualitative outcomes of our project rather than the bottom line. I found this most refreshing.
  • The volunteers used by PLACED were all very professional and worked very well with the public and as a team.

“I enjoyed having adults LISTEN to our ideas about the local area and designing a place for us”

Pupil

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Liverpool L18 0HJ

Tel: 07968 237 280
Email: info@placed.org.uk

PLACED is the trading name for PLACE Education CIC Company Registration Number 7791873