The Regeneration Academy Bradford is a groundbreaking venture from Integreat Yorkshire and City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. The aim is to deliver a bespoke learning package to every member of staff in the council’s Department of Regeneration and Culture. After two years of external facilitation, it is now being run in-house by staff from Bradford Council.
We were involved with the academy from the start, devising and delivering a range of events dealing with new thinking and innovative practice in regeneration. During the Academy’s pilot phase in 2009 we facilitated a variety of elective modules, covering issues from housing and digital technologies to social enterprise. In 2010 we were asked to take on the whole of the placemaking strand of the Academy, working with colleagues from Beam.
Our core workshops examined the importance of the local economy; the role and function of the city centre; and the factors that cause neighbourhoods to succeed or struggle. We also ran optional modules on building in context; shared space; and masterplanning.
Our programme equips staff to act as an in-house research, advice and consultancy team. We develop their talents and ideas, enabling them to make the most of the assets that exist among their teams and their partners.
Good placemaking need not be expensive. It can make the most of resources by encouraging a holistic view of place and identifying how different drivers can work together to achieve multiple benefits. This prevents costly mistakes and ensures best value for money.
Key to our thinking is the understanding that it is people who shape place. The smartest architectural design, transport system or health policy in the world is only as good as the way it is used. Conversely, positive and imaginative attitudes and behaviours can turn the ordinary into something extraordinary.
But don’t take our word for it. This is what some participants have said:
‘Stimulating, inspirational, educational. Enjoyed being able to step back from day-to-day work and consider the wider context – alternative ways of thinking and doing.’ (feedback from study tour to Richmond)
‘Love the way the session is broken up into presentations, group work, external walkabouts.’ (participant in city centre workshop)
‘Don’t judge a neighbourhood until you have walked its streets.’ (participant in neighbourhood workshop)