Creating a place identity for the South

The importance of place identity was a standout theme at Business South’s Regenerate South Conference on 4th June 2019 – as over 150 built environment professionals gathered at the University of Winchester to hear about future property and infrastructure development plans for the South region.

John Denham, Chair of the Advisory Board at the Southern Policy Centre, kicked off proceedings by highlighting the disparate nature of the region’s approach to place identity. He called for stakeholders across the region to work together to find a collective narrative, and shared the key attributes identified by research undertaken by the Southern Policy Centre, as a starting point for a collective regional placemaking strategy:

• Three waterfront cities: complementary economies and ambitions
• 5/6 universities
• Large and (potentially) interconnected population
• A strong cultural offer
• Set in a unique natural environment
• A Gateway region
• Good access to NE Hants/Surrey/Thames Valley/London

John was followed by Andrew Keeling from Hotel Solutions, James Child from Whitehill & Borden Regeneration, and Robin Dobson from Hammerson who showcased their plans for hotel, housing and retail development across the South. All stressing the value that can be unlocked through effective placemaking and regeneration, and the importance of creating places where people want to work, live and play.

The conference concluded with panellists pitching their solutions for helping the southern region to compete effectively with the rest of the UK. Improving the speed of the planning system, aligning the price of commercial property with the North, catching up with demand for commercial property, improving the range of property types, and taking an entrepreneurial approach to utilities were all raised as initiatives that could enable the region to compete more effectively for investment. But it was Rebecca McDonald from Centre 4 Cities who secured the audience majority with 49% of the vote for highlighting the need to improve “intra-city” transport infrastructure.

BECG was proud to support Regenerate South 2019 and will be continuing to work with Business South to help drive a shared voice across the Central South region. We have a wealth of experience creating placemaking strategies that help to demonstrate responsible regeneration, attract occupiers and visitors, boost the local economy, build a sense of community and deliver social value – find out more about our placemaking service.