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

In 2020 Welsh Government and the Design Commission for Wales published the highly ambitious Placemaking Wales Charter, aiming to holistically improve the quality of the built environment in Wales.

The Charter outlines six placemaking principles for all built environment projects to adhere: people and community, location, movement, mix of uses, public realm and identity.

COVID-19 has exposed the relevance and urgency to implement these principles to make Welsh communities more resilient. However, potentially uneven urban design knowledge and skills in Local Authorities (LAs), could jeopardise its swift implementation through local government’s daily practices across departments involving in shaping the public realm in towns and cities (such as planning, highways, parks and recreation, etc).

Our project aims to bridge this gap by introducing a Placemaking Toolkit for Wales to support the work of LAs specifically in designing the public realm in town centres. Following placemaking’s ethos the toolkit is co-produced with four distinct Welsh LAs and encompasses a range of public space design and management guidance, and resources.

To succeed, a multidisciplinary team of academics developed a partnership with the Design Commission for Wales, the Urban Design Group, and Living Streets. The ultimate goal for the toolkit is to become a steppingstone towards greater effectiveness and quality in the development of placemaking practices, with special emphasis on the public realm in Wales.

Research Team

This project is a joint venture from the School of Geography and Planning and Welsh School of Architecture and includes a multidisciplinary team of architects, planners, urban designers, architectural and urban historians, and human geographers:

  • Patricia Aelbrecht (lead)
  • Francesca Sartorio
  • Wes Aelbrecht
  • Michael Corr
  • Richard Gale
  • Jessica Richmond
  • Sanjeev Kumar
  • Sam Rule

Steering group and partners

  • Jen Heal, Senior Design Advisor, Design Commission for Wales (DCfW)
  • Robert Huxford, Director of Urban Design Group (UDG)
  • Julia Crear and John Kilner, Head of Projects and Technical Services, Living Streets

The project team

Principal investigator


Dr Patricia Lopes Simoes Aelbrecht

Senior Lecturer in Urban Design, Planning and Intercultural Studies