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Held on 20th July 2016 as part of the work of ResPublica’s Backing Beauty Commission, this roundtable focused on how to encourage local authority investment in the public realm at a time of fiscal restraint, and how to make the most of the considerable resources and enthusiasm of ordinary citizens in shaping their locality. The discussion was attended by participants including Simon Gallagher, Director of Planning at DCLG; Professor Tony Travers; and representatives from the Department of Health and a number of city councils.
The discussion identified a number of barriers to the creation of a more beautiful public realm, of which the two principal challenges were the perception of beauty as a luxury add-on and a lack of resource at the local level to invest in the creation and ongoing upkeep of beautiful spaces and places. The value of harnessing a range of deliberative techniques and new and emerging digital technologies in deciding what public realm improvements should be prioritised was stressed.
It was argued more innovative uses of existing policy tools such as the Community Infrastructure Levy and Business Improvement Districts, together with original thinking about how the state can harness the energy and creativity of citizens through handing down responsibility for creating and maintaining beautiful public spaces such as community gardens, should be considered to help resolve these barriers. In areas where little development is currently planned or ongoing, Social Impact Bonds were suggested as a way to finance this investment.
To find out more about the project associated with this event please contact Duncan Sim, Senior Policy and Projects Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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