It’s the invisible network that secures the future of your place

Invisible Networks and How to Use Them in Your Place

Places are defined by the physical network of buildings and roads that they cover. So it is relatively easy to map the physical area a place occupies from individual streets to an area on an ordnance survey map.  Surveys of shoppers and Invisible networks article features in Place Magazineworkers can also be used to map out the hinterland of a place which can be transferred to a map showing the retail catchment area or the travel to work area.

These visible networks are useful tools to use to compare your place with others and over a period of time can act as barometers to the vibrancy of your place. The networks that drive the changes in the physical networks are harder to capture.  Our places have input from both the public and private sector, some of these networks are well defined and easily captured, others are more difficult and probably more vital to your places future.

Invisible network author Keith Jackson is a monthly contributor to Place Magazine
Keith Jackson is a monthly contributor to Place Magazine

Part of my previous work at CRED in the University of Cumbria highlighted the invisible networks across the public sector that ensured business compliance of national regulations at a local level. These networks interacted with various trade bodies to encourage where possible that these networks delivered elements of business support as well as regulation compliance.  IFLAS, another body within Cumbria examines the invisible networks across the public and private sectors that make up a place and then looks at how these can be led.

Our own recent experience (as Thomas Jardine & co) in renovating a city centre building to house a co-working space highlighted how you can stumble across these incredibly vital invisible networks.  In our area at first glance the construction sector looks fairly visible with several large local, regional and national firms either developing housing sites or working on larger commercial projects. As a smaller developer, we were fortunate enough to work with a really good local architect who guided us through the necessary compliance of our project and who introduced us to an excellent local builder whose invisible network of contractors and suppliers seems to be able to tackle any contingency we come across.  We were also lucky to have a chance conversation with one of our son’s friends whose business is now redoing all of our electric and gas heating requirements.  This network of invisible local trade’s people is essential in maintaining the growth of our place and it should be no surprise that the good trades people tend to know each other and appear to prefer working on sites with people they know and trust.

Like all good local networks they tend to get on with it quietly with not too much noise hence they tend to be less visible than the larger national firms, this does not stop their ambition, one Advertise in Place Magazine each month at a very low rateof our local firms (Story) has gone from a one man band to a national player in one generation.

The invisible networks in your place are what creates the visible network.  This is just as true for the food network that supplies the local hospitality trade as it is for construction and I am sure you could think of other invisible networks.  So before you next decide to help change your visible networks in your place take a deep breath and check to see that you have included all the invisible networks in your plans as well.

A Playlist for Places

Welcome to the last edition of Place for 2017

As ever, Place this month is full of stories from towns and cities around the country, I hope you enjoy reading them.

I thought I’d do something a little different this month, as well as take a break from my standard December playlist, and provide all of our readers with a little gift for Christmas.

So, with thanks to Jean Ball for providing the initial inspiration at our Northwich conference back in the spring, here is a playlist of the best songs with “town” or “city” in the title:

Town Called Malice – The Jam

Summer In The City – The Lovin’ SpoonfulRevive & Thrive's Place Magazine December edition

Raintown – Deacon Blue

The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy

Suffragette City – David Bowie

Small Town Boy – Bronski Beat

Ghost Town – The Specials

Dirty Old Town – The Pogues

Life In A Northern Town – The Dream Academy

Your Town – Deacon Blue

Funky Town – Lipps, Inc.

We Built This City – Starship

Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses

That’s a pretty good playlist, I reckon, and I’ve share it on both iTunes and Spotify. I’m sure there are loads more that you can suggest – drop me an email and maybe we’ll do a volume 2 next year.

I’ve also avoided any songs with specific place names in the title – that’d be a huge playlist!

Editor, Matthew Powell

More stories like this one from Leeds BID can be found in Place Magazine each month

Communities Make Places

Communities make places by Alison Bowcott-McGrath

Communities should nurture civic pride


In a recent white paper, the Local Government Association acknowledged a growing recognition of the importance of cultural activities in the lives of people, communities and places. It states, “What is local and unique has special value and should be supported and encouraged.” Cultural identity is strongly tied to a sense of belonging, engagement, understanding and appreciation of where people live. Civic pride raises the confidence and aspirations of a community.

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Articles like this one from Alison Bowcott-McGrath can be found in this month’s Place Magazine. Download now for free

Above and beyond urban design, placemaking is instrumental in shaping our environment to better serve the community and support its future growth. It’s about defining space through cultural creativity, economic activity, and social connectivity. Listening to the community is key, residents provide important information used in assessing the effective delivery of services that are meant to benefit them. As placemaking professionals, the earlier we involve them, the better.  

Seems obvious really doesn’t it? It’s about listening to the people whose lives we affect in the places we regenerate. It’s about forming strong partnerships between local government, the private sector and community organisations to pool our resources, knowledge and expertise.

An inspiring example is the Camden Highline. Taking its cue from NYC’s famous park, The Highline, Camden BID (Camden Unlimited) is spearheading a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a feasibility study towards making the project a reality. London mayor, Sadiq Khan joins over 200 residents, community groups and businesses that have already pledged support to turn a half-mile stretch of disused railway line into a new public park and garden walk.

Inspiring Communities

Urban gardening project, Incredible Edible in Todmorden was started by a group of like-minded people whose aim was to bring people together in building a kinder, more sustainable community, and help change attitudes and behaviour towards the environment. The locally grown food is shared by the community and since its conception in 2008 has become a full-fledged movement. Their ethos has been taken up by communities all over the world and there are now 120 Incredible Edible official groups in the UK and more than 700 worldwide.

Finally, after attending the annual conference of the Institute Place Management in Manchester a few weeks ago, a couple of other initiatives caught my attention:

Jan Brown from Liverpool John Moores University, presented “Connecting the Sound Tracks of Our Lives: Marketing Places Through Music.” Jan proposed innovative marketing campaigns using various media to create multisensory communications. Her paper explores the various music styles of a place and how they connect the community inclusively.

In her book, Cara Courage, a collaborative creative placemaker and arts consultant, explores the role of art in placemaking in urban environments. She analyses how artists and communities use arts to improve their quality of life and explores the concept of social practice placemaking, where artists and members of the community are equal experts in the process. Arts in Place. The Arts, the Urban and Social Practice by Cara Courage

Working together, as an inclusive community that includes professional placemakers, artists, musicians, local councils and residents, we can create better places to live. When the environment inspires us, our connections strengthen and we become truly aware of the community.Revive & Thrive Corporate Advocate PinPointer writing about inspiring communities

Alison Bowcott-McGrath

Founder and Managing Director

PinPointer UK and MAYNINETEEN Ltd

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