Hold the design workshops

The initial design workshop focuses on ‘visioning’ or ‘place identity’ while the main workshops develop the themes, priority projects and spatial options.

Initial design workshop

The initial design workshop can be combined with the session on finalising the findings of the previous project phase, including the final stages of the SWOT analysis, and positioning work, place identity exploration and development of the design brief.

A workshop that combines these activities is typically called a ‘visioning’ or ‘place identity workshop’ and is conducted over several days. Its key outcome is a consensus on the types of strategic themes that will be the focus of the strategy.

The work is conducted in plenary and smaller, place-based groups. It includes several focused sessions with relevant specialist and key stakeholders, and one or two open sessions for a wider stakeholder group.

Main design workshops

The main design workshop/s are aimed at developing further the themes, priority projects and, in parallel, spatial options. Participants also test the themes and spatial options (see ‘Testing the options’ task).

During the main design workshops a variety of different theme and place-based groups will develop strategic themes and spatial options.
Place-based groups are based on the towns, cities, rural areas or any other relevant definition of sub-areas within the strategy boundary.

Theme-based groups may be formed on the basis of:

  • the multi-disciplinary strategic themes developed during the course of the previous workshops or
  • the individual key disciplines or sectors involved in the development of the strategy.

The latter might include groups dealing with:

  • green network (green / open space, biodiversity, land form character, recreation, etc.)
  • movement network (public transport, vehicular traffic, cycling and pedestrian movement etc.)
  • blue network (waterways/lakes/sea)
  • social network (community facilities, cultural issues, wellbeing/health, affordability, crime and safety etc.)
  • employment network (knowledge-based and service sectors, manufacturing, economic initiatives, etc.)
  • activity centres (the functions/roles of district, town or city centres, centres hierarchy and complementarity, relationship to surrounding areas etc.)
  • housing issues (housing preferences, development economics, etc.)
  • environmental quality and climate change (energy, clean water supply, flooding/surface water, recycling, carbon emission, etc.).

Early involvement of the primary stakeholders in the workshop is important for getting project support among their constituents and staff. Politicians should be engaged in the first workshop presentation session, which sets out preliminary ideas and major issues. Midway through each workshop, invite primary stakeholders to attend a review. This provides an opportunity for politicians to:

  • indicate whether there are any provisional ideas to come out of the workshop that carry high political risk
  • assess if the scope of the workshop has sufficiently covered key areas.

The final day of the workshop presents the summary of the work carried out for stakeholder approval and decisions regarding next steps.

Next step: share the results