A KMA-led team was commissioned in summer 2018 to undertake the Warrington Central 6 Masterplan by the Warrington Central Area Renewal Board. The Board is made up of community, partner organisations and council representatives – as such they were looking for an approach to masterplanning that was community driven and had a high degree of engagement. We offered an approach that put the community at the heart of the process, with three major feedback loops built in to the method.
Our team has deep insight into how to build up a masterplan collaboratively with a community, and the deliver through partnership working, community empowerment and is not dependent on an old style top-down delivery model. A key aim of this Regeneration Masterplan is to help local people to take part in planning Warrington’s planning, regeneration and future growth processes. By creating an inclusive co-production approach, the engagement process has been as important as the masterplan document.
The engagement process was broadly split into three stages, with each stage building on the previous and informing the next one. This progressive conversation allowed stakeholders and consultees to see how their input built the plan. Overall, the engagement process involved the input of over 2600 people who gave the ideas contained in the masterplan. The role of the design team was to take these ideas, curate them, understand how they can be shaped into a deliverable project or place proposition and present that back to the public to affirm the aspiration and implications.
The outcomes of this collaborative work was a plan where communities can take action and responsibility for shaping and changing their places, in addition to developers and the Council function. This strategy document sits to serve these communities and empower them to ‘grasp the nettle’, as well as providing a framework for agencies, planners and placemakers to work from. The plan sets out a strategy, vision and principles that explain in an accessible way the benefits and how to read the plan. Then, an action and project themes, providing descriptions for each action area and the projects that deliver on that theme’s aim. Finally, how to deliver the masterplan, setting out some options for governance and for taking the plan forwards. The projects in the plan were a suite of improvements; they work together, often in small ways, to transform the place, e.g. from place maintenance and upkeep through to how traffic flows might work and infrastructure change.
A large part of the delivery process is about empowerment and equipping communities to take ownership. This can be through experimentation or ‘tactical urbanism’ projects where a temporary solution should be trialled in a first phase before rolling out a project on a more permanent basis and to other locations. The masterplan also suggested some phase 1 locations. Again this was in the spirit of experimentation and trialling projects prior to committing more money across wider areas. Further, to deliver the process, the masterplan sets out several appropriate mechanisms that links the players and partners to deliver committed measures with clear capability to continue over a prescribed timeframe.
The masterplan is set to be officially published in early 2020.