Harness placemaking to close North’s inequality gap, says Mace report

Manchester (Demo)

PLACEMAKING has a critical role to play in addressing health and other inequalities that blight to the UK, according to construction consultancy firm, Mace.

In a new report, the firm claims to have laid bare the “huge disparity” in local healthcare provision in the country and shown how this gap drives inequality in some of the UK’s most deprived communities.

The findings presented in ‘Joining the Dots: Moving beyond place to help solve the UK’s inequality problem’ are said to be of particular significance for the North of England.

The research, with modelling done by a former senior HM Treasury and MHCLG economist, is said to show that placemaking interventions can help reduce the impact of such unequal access to healthcare. This in turn would reduce overall inequality and deliver better outcomes while saving money for the taxpayer.

“Our research shows how targeted placemaking interventions could help close some of the inequalities that exist around the UK; helping to transform ‘forgotten’ places into thriving communities, where people can feel happier, healthier and have more aspiration,” said Jason Millett, COO for consultancy at Mace.

“Our new report is a call for the next government, planners and developers to put people at the centre of new housing developments and regeneration projects to ensure they work for the communities who live there.”

The report’s findings sit alongside new polling, carried out by Survation on behalf of Mace, which found that the majority of the country don’t trust any political party to deliver ‘good places to live’. Furthermore, 90% of people rate healthcare facilities and low crime rates as the most important factors when choosing where to live.

The report shows that the North West has been particularly badly hit with poor transport connectivity, predominantly within localised transport networks.

The findings outline in practice what leading with a placemaking approach could deliver for places such as Greater Manchester.

Mace was commissioned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to take a placemaking approach for the delivery of 24,000 new homes around the city. A holistic approach was taken, which considered the people of Greater Manchester and their current and predicted needs.

Findings from this work include that taking a holistic place-based approach would bring £37 million of additional benefits that can be generated each year, reducing demand for services.

Ahead of the General Election on 12 December, the report is a call for the next government to build on their manifesto pledges and take real steps towards meeting the needs of communities across the country.

The report suggests a number of policy initiatives that could help local authorities, the NHS and developers address inequality and poor healthcare outcomes through placemaking.

These include the suggestion that ‘supercharged’ Development Corporations could take on the challenge of integrating transport connections, healthcare and education to deliver better outcomes for people.

According to the report, some of the areas in the North West that would benefit the most from a placemaking approach to solving inequalities are Blackpool and Knowsley – where deprivation levels are the highest in the country, but access to healthcare facilities is the lowest.

Granting funding to development corporations through Homes England could see more people gaining access to healthcare facilities. The research shows that this would reduce the number of additional GPs that need to be recruited – estimated to be 14,000.

“Our report rightly highlights the benefits of placemaking within our UK regions,” said Colin Harvey, director of UK North at Mace. “Greater Manchester is encouraged to capitalise on these opportunities and lead by example to other Northern Powerhouse cities. There is a need to focus on closing the inequality gap across the North of England. To do this, we need to look holistically at what drives a place and the interventions that will help it to thrive.”



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