PlaceBuilder by The Future Fox to help planners negotiate trade-offs with their communities via their phones
The Future Fox have launched a new, transformative feature for their digital engagement platform, PlaceBuilder. For the first time, communities are being brought into the challenging discussions on the trade-offs in designing new developments, via a fun, 5-minute experience on their mobile phones.
The Create-a-Town feature was first launched to consult on the Shirebrook Growth Plan for the former coal mining town in Derbyshire, on 30 August 2022. The Future Fox were appointed as the digital engagement supplier by Bolsover District Council, who received funding from DLUHC’s PropTech Engagement Fund. The Future Fox and the Council have worked closely together to launch the new feature, which enables residents to create and submit their own vision for a new, cost neutral part of the town.
You can explore the tool, for Shirebrook here: https://placebuilder.io/imagineshirebrook
For the first time in the UK, the public will be able to make informed decisions using cost impacts to design a new part of their town from scratch, using a mobile-first, easy-to-use and fun web-based tool, designed for a modern, mobile and time-poor audience.
On the PlaceBuilder website, users can choose from a variety of amenities, shown as cute, isometric icons, like solar farms, housing and green space, and position them on the map. Each item either makes money, or costs money, based on local market values. Users are encouraged to use a variety of items to make the new part of town sustainable, and balance the budget to create a cost-neutral masterplan that is realistically feasible. An interactive moneybox is there to help them along the way.
As well as an automated spatial analysis showing trends in preferences, the project in Shirebrook will see the best ideas visualised in virtual reality for the public to view and comment on in the town centre later this year. If taken forward by the Council and developers, this will be the first master plan that will have been created by the community, bottom-up. This will be a groundbreaking demonstration of citizen involvement in strategic planning and embodies a future agile, democratic and constructive planning system.
Planning consultations typically involve surveys, which can be interactive and visual, events and newsletters. Decisions about growth and plans for growth are made by professionals such as developers, architects, planners and economists, and local residents are only invited to comment at the later stages of the proposals, without access to early information about the pros and cons at concept stage.
This innovative new PlaceBuilder feature draws inspiration from two popular consultation methods of Participatory Budgeting and issue mapping to inform decision making, but takes them to another level to transform the Community-to-Council interface, and enable co-design at the earliest possible stage.
Annette Jezierska, CEO and Founder, The Future Fox:
“We very often get asked by Local authorities, planners and developers about how to get the community to accept there are trade-offs in planning. This is actually a barrier for them to engage their communities more. Solving for this is something we had to do to help move the debate over schemes like housing and net zero power, on from a stalemate to a collaboration with the community, which will improve decision making and accelerate delivery. We can’t wait to see the ideas from the Shirebrook community and the discussion it catalyses.”
Cllr Steve Fritchley, Leader of Bolsover District Council, said:
“We like to be innovative, use technology where appropriate and try new things,
particularly if it can help our local communities prosper.
Growth is one of our main priorities to help improve the District, create the jobs and homes we want and to bring investment and new services and facilities to our communities. That’s why when we started the preparation on the Shirebrook Growth Plan I wanted to give the people who live and work in Shirebrook the chance to have their say earlier than usually happens.
“This new tool will let people see what growth is available, the trade-offs they need to balance their budget and the importance of providing things you want to things that are needed. I look forward to seeing what the people of Shirebrook come up with and I’m sure they will demonstrate their creativity and show us their exciting ideas.”
Bridget Wilkins, Head of Digital Citizen Engagement, DLUHC, said:
“The collaboration between Bolsover District Council and The Future Fox is another exciting example of how the PropTech Engagement Fund has accelerated adoption of innovative digital tools to engage communities in planning across the country.
It’s an inspiring approach to informing communities on the trade-offs inherent in development and bringing visions for future regeneration to life through digital experiences.
Congratulations to the teams involved – a brilliant example of PropTech working in partnership with local authorities to create more inclusive, transparent and dynamic methods of community engagement.
We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this tech enabled approach and how the feedback from the community informs future planning in the area”.
Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones, UCL Bartlett Professor of Cities and Regions, and a member of the Digital Planning Task Force.
The Future Fox's new Create-a-Town feature is an exceptional example of how we can harness technology directly for community participation in the planning process. Residents use their smart phones and apps constantly and it makes sense to create new, fun and accessible tools that give them a direct say in shaping change. This is a game changer because it allows people to participate in planning in a style and time of their choice. Research shows that communities react proactively to both planning and questions about growth when you create innovative proactive methods that are easy to use.
More and more local planning authorities are recognising the benefits of early community involvement in planning, through the adoption of digital tools, alongside traditional consultation methods. These examples are paving the way for a new type of inclusive democracy in Britain that will surely allow planning to be seen as a enabler of better places.
About Bolsover District Council
Bolsover District Council is the local planning authority for Bolsover District. The
Growth Plan being prepared will be a dedicated plan for Shirebrook,
setting out plans for how Shirebrook could grow and prosper over the next
five years and beyond. It will cover issues such as living and working in
Shirebrook, and will particularly focus on the town centre and the Market
Place and environmental issues. The Masterplanning Consultation Exercise on the Shirebrook Growth Plan runs from Tuesday 30 August to Friday 30 September 2022. More information on the Shirebrook Growth Plan can be found on the Council’s dedicated webpage.
About The Future Fox and PlaceBuilder
The Future Fox is a UK social impact technology SME with a vision for citizens to lead the future of their cities and places, and are the team behind PlaceBuilder.
PlaceBuilder is an inclusive digital engagement platform for governments and planners to get more responses to consultations, understand their communities better than ever before, and take forward decisions with confidence. PlaceBuilder clients include HM Government, Scottish Government, Devon County Council, Lewisham Council, on schemes covering 10,000 people to 3 million.
The new feature is being offered to all clients as part of their PlaceBuilder subscription. It has been designed by The Future Fox’s diverse team, who cover several countries of origin, a Ukrainian war refugee, and a young person hired after joining via The Kickstart Scheme. The company is led by female Founder and CEO, Annette Jezierska and advisors include one of the world’s leading experts in planning, Prof Mark Tewdwr-Jones.
The Future Fox are partnering with Digital Urban, another innovative UK SME who work with both public and private sector partners to create and provide a platform to support the on-going use and application of 3D urban models for towns and cities. Which, once established, are made available for all to utilise. To find out more about Create-a-Town, or to book a demo, reach out to us at email@example.com