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PLACED Digital Academy

Summary of Feedback

Overview

The Autumn PLACED Digital Academy saw 33 young people aged 14-18 inputting their views into the Objectives of the Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA).

The SDS was introduced by Emma Dyson, from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, providing them with a baseline of information during the first session. Over the four weeks, they reflected on how they would apply the broad themes identified under the SDS Objectives in practical ways; at a micro level through visualising a community hub, local level through visualising a high street and at a City Region Level through voting and discussion.

The following is a brief summary of feedback of the group’s priorities and responses to the Spatial Development Strategy. The information presented in this summary is primarily from the final session, during which there was a detailed discussion of the Objectives using an online interactive presentation tool. This final session drew on the previous learning from activities and discussion, enabling the group to offer considered responses to the SDS Objectives.

The Autumn PLACED Digital Academy participants were young people from across the North West, with a total of 13 from local authorities in Liverpool City Region. The table below shows a complete list of postcodes.

Programme Format

Participants spent four 2-hour sessions with the Academy completing a variety of tasks around the SDS Objectives, and they were also given homework tasks to complete in between sessions of between 1 and 2 hours. The overall time spent on the SDS engagement was approximately 12.5 hours per participant.

Within the sessions, participants worked with the PLACED team and a range of PLACED Ambassadors to discuss the themes in creative ways, such as making collaborative vision statements, high-streets to which the Objectives were applied and ‘pledges’ they would take as the Mayor of the Liverpool City Region to reach the Objectives. Whilst some activities were completed in sub-groups, there was also a whole group discussion and reflection.

For their homework, participants took the learning around the SDS and applied it to an independent project designing community hubs which responded to one, several or all of the themes.

Findings: SDS Objectives

The following information shows the responses gathered throughout the Academy in response to the SDS Objectives in chronological order.

For the first 3 sessions, participants were only

given the Objective headings and the bullets below the Objectives were not explored. This enabled groups to formulate their own responses without being overtly influenced by the full

statements. The participants read the Objectives in full in session 4.

Session 1: Initial priorities

What do you think the number one priority should be for the Liverpool City Region’s Objectives?

During the first session, the group were asked to select which of the Objective themes they felt was their number one priority. These independent responses were given after a brief introduction about the SDS strategy and the Objectives from Emma Dyson. The results can be seen in the table below

Looking into the top category of ‘Tackling

Climate Change’ in more detail, the participants shared their views about why they thought this was a top priority. 58 comments were collected ranging from the positive effects the environment has on communities, the positive impact on future generations, and the need for long-term vision and action. A small sample of comments are as follows:

  • “We have a limited time to save our world and – through raising awareness and working harder to solve the problem – we can try and ensure that the big problems created by companies begin to be solved”
  • “Climate change is something which affects everyone not just a single group”
  • “It touches everyone. There is no other greater challenge to unite around”
  • “It protects biodiversity which is vital for sustainability while also improving health and well being”

Session 2: Defining the Objectives

In the second workshop, we asked the participants to explore how they would apply the broad themes identified under the SDS Objectives in a practical way. They worked in sub-groups with each considering a different Objective in more detail. We asked them to consider the following:

  • What the SDS Objective statement meant to them individually
  • What major change / intervention they would like to see in the context of this Objective
  • What might be difficult about implementing that change / intervention.

Following this, we asked them to apply their ideas at local level through visualising a high street using Miro, an online interactive platform. We encouraged creative responses through using writing, images, and drawings to demonstrate ideas.

Examples of the high streets created by different groups can be seen below:

Group 1 – Health and wellbeing: addressing health inequalities and creating a healthier city region

Group 2 – Delivering an inclusive economy

Group 3 – Placemaking and communities: creating high quality buildings and places that allow our communities to flourish

Group 4 – Social value: embedding social value in all aspects of development

Observations

Interventions to tackle Climate Change were included across each category, in line with climate being a top priority as indicated in the first session, and reflecting previous comments that tackling climate change would positively impact other areas of life.

Inclusive Economy and Social Value were the most challenging for the

participants and the mentors to grasp as a concept. Social Value in

particular proved the most challenging when tasked with identifying physical interventions to achieve the aim.

Session 3: Pledge for change

The first part of Session 3 saw participants responding individually to the prompt, ‘What is your biggest concern, and what change would you make?’ Participants were given freedom to choose the category they would most like to respond to out of the Objectives. They were each given a digital workspace to respond to the question through a mixture of images, words and links.

Even if you don’t end up wishing to work in the built environment, I think this is still a really useful and beneficial experience, working with professionals and new people on fun and unique tasks. It gave me a valuable insight into the life working as a professional in the built

environment, as well as learning new skills along the way. I think it is a really beneficial and fun scheme for everyone.” Max

Next, we put participants into working groups to collectively think the different Objectives. They were asked to decide on ‘pledge’ statements that outline the actions they would most like to see prioritised under this SDS Objective. Again, the young people responded to this task creatively, using images and writing.

Their responses to each SDS Objective are shown below:

Group 1 – Health and wellbeing: addressing health inequalities and creating a healthier city region

“It’s such a good experience. Despite ours being online, we learnt so much and met so many people. And it’s extremely beneficial for university applications and just personal growth.”

Mitchell

Group 2 – Delivering an inclusive economy

Group 3 – Placemaking and communities: creating high quality buildings and places that allow our communities to flourish

Group 4 – Social value: embedding social value in all aspects of development

“The environment around us not only affects the environment but our mental health and outlook on life”

“My biggest concern is that some communities are neglected by councils and many young people don’t have a place to be themselves”

Academy Participants

 Session 4: Rating the SDS Objectives

The final workshop

summarised the participant’s learning by asking them to rank what they thought of the LCR’s SDS statements by presenting them with the full-text Objectives for the first time and allowing them to reflect on what they thought worked well or was missing.

Question 1: How do you rank these priorities from most to least important?

The participants were asked to rank the Objectives in order of

importance to them.

The table below shows the overall scores with Tackling Climate Change being the highest priority and Maximising Social Value the lowest priority:

Note: These scores were weighted, where the top

priority was given a weighting of 5, and the lowest priority a weighting of 1.

These findings show that at the start of the programme and at the final session, Tackling Climate Change was the number one priority. Inclusive economy moved up from the lowest to the third highest rated priority, and Social Value moved from third to bottom.

Question 2: Are there any categories missing from the SDS Objectives?

After showing the participants the five Objectives, they were asked if they thought any themes were missing. This open question saw the following themes emerging:

Safety took a substantial number of votes with a fifth of comments identifying it as something that was lacking, followed by education.

“Engaging with young people through the Digital Academy was a really innovative and different way to hear the voices of the future. The pandemic, like most things, completely altered the way we could discuss, learn and engage with various groups and so we were

really pleased that PLACED were still able to go ahead with their Academy, albeit in a slightly different and virtual format.

Time and time again it brought to focus that our young people passionately care for the environment that they live in and the health of themselves and their families; two key points which are really driving forward the development of the SDS policy.”

Emma Dyson, LCRCA

Question 3:

Do you agree with the LCR’s Objectives?

The next 5 questions saw participants seeing the full LCR’s SDS Objectives for the first time since the introduction in the first session.

After reading the statement, we asked the Academy participants to tell us to what extent they agree with the statements and what they felt was missing.

The feedback on each Objective below can be found below.

Climate Change

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objectives?

Most felt that 2040 was too late and that they wanted to see actions being taken sooner. They also felt that transport should be addressed. See below full list of responses to the question “Have we missed anything? Is there anything you’d like to add?”

Comments broadly fell into the following categories:

  • Sense of urgency / 2040 being too late
  • Transport
  • Unclear Objectives
  • Other

Sense of urgency / 2040 being too late:

  • 2040 is too late
  • Change needs to be done quicker and made easily accessible
  • Needs to be faster
  • 2040 is to late
  • Needs to be done now
  • Do it now
  • True, yes 2040 is too late – deadlines need to be smaller so they are in sight and not out of mind
  • Has to be implemented sooner
  • Now is the time to act not 2040
  • 2040 is too late
  • They need to make laws sooner
  • Too late
  • We have to act quickly
  • Need to be faster
  • 2040 may be too late
  • Needs to be sooner
  • Start now
  • Needs to be done sooner
  • More of a push for renewables and carbon neutrality for 2030 instead

Transport:

  • Buses = electric
  • Making cheaper and more electric cars or transport using other natural resources
  • Travel to be electric
  • Encouraging walking
  • Transport must be included
  • Transport
  • Public transport = electric
  • Transport own category
  • Electric buses
  • Cheaper public transport
  • Transport
  • Electric buses

Unclear Objectives:

  • Very vague
  • Vague
  • How are they going to do it?
  • Not clear

Other:

  • Start educating younger people
  • Add more bins to help recycling
  • Making sure developers/builders use renewable and green materials
  • Feels like they are focusing on protecting not progressing

Addressing health inequalities

Many young people felt that mental health and accessibility (financial / disability / area) were not addressed. See below full list of responses to the question “Have we missed anything? Is there anything you’d like to add?”

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

  • Mental health:
  • Mental health
  • Mental health priorities
  • Mental health
  • Mental health
  • Meditation
  • Mental health needs own category and to be more important
  • Mental health!!!!! It’s more important than physical health
  • Accessibility and mental health
  • Mental health
  • Mental health
  • Comments broadly fell into the following categories:
  • Mental health
  • Accessibility
  • Other

Accessibility:

  • Needs to be in all areas
  • Cheaper transport options
  • More safe and accessible walking areas
  • The cost to those who may not be able to afford e.g. gyms
  • Cheaper
  • Needs more emphasis on wealth/class
  • inequalities
  • Making places accessible for people with disabilities
  • Cheaper public facilities
  • Class divide will always affect it
  • Cheaper gym
  • Free sports facilities
  • Facilities need to be accessible
  • The financial cost and how it affects others

Other:

  • Make use of what we already have
  • Transport variety not just one type
  • Equity> equality – limited funding in health so help those who need it first?
  • Ensuring high quality development. How? What are their plans?
  • Employment opportunities and equality for all people
  • They haven’t given specifics or detail
  • How do they propose facilities will develop exactly?
  • Not that much change. Very limited
  • No time limits are included. Could imply a short time to get these targets accomplished or many years
  • Some cities are too small to be reshaped with cycle paths

Delivering an inclusive economy

Affordability of housing and a focus on supporting local independent businesses were two factors that Academy participants felt needed to be added to this Objective. See below full list of responses to the question “Have we missed anything? Is there anything you’d like to add?”.

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

Comments broadly fell into the following categories:

  • Housing and affordability
  • Local business
  • Addressing class / wealth divide and equal opportunities (education and employment)
  • Other

Housing and affordability:

  • Affordable housing – mixed income housing
  • Affordable housing so everyone has a step
  • in life
  • Making affordable housing attractive
  • Affordable housing
  • Affordable housing
  • Didn’t mention housing and transport
  • Housing
  • Transport
  • Housing and transport
  • Affordable childcare e.g. nursery for poorer families

Addressing class / wealth divide and equal opportunities (education and employment):

  • People need be aware of how to develop and progress
  • Taking care of the class divide
  • Addressing the class divide
  • Didn’t mention employment
  • Equality
  • Opportunities need to be provided from young ages in schools
  • More school funding to allow children to develop different skills from a young age.

Other:

  • Why is this only happening just now?
  • Very vague
  • Vague
  • Objectives need to be more specific
  • More detailed.

Creating high quality buildings

Once again, affordability of housing came up here, along with making use of buildings already in existence by renovating or redeveloping them. Creating a sense of community was also mentioned. See below full list of responses to the question “Have we missed anything? Is there anything you’d like to add?”.

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

Comments broadly fell into the following categories:

  • Housing and affordability
  • Reusing / renovating existing buildings
  • Other

Housing and affordability:

  • Affordable
  • Affordable housing
  • Affordability
  • These buildings need to be accessible and affordable for all
  • Affordable
  • Making sure new housing that is attractive isn’t just for those who can afford it
  • Making sure it doesn’t create any more

divides, meaning that yet another newer and more expensive area is created

  • Safe housing for lower income families
  • Housing offered with specific things such as stair lifts for people with disabilities
  • Demolish old-rented council housing and replace with energy efficient, high quality housing for the same rent price tag so the residents don’t lose out but better their lives

Reusing / renovating existing buildings:

  • Buildings should be renovated and updated or built on brownfield sites
  • Refurnishing old buildings that might’ve become more scruffy
  • Renovations
  • Recycle materials from old buildings if
  • possible
  • Reuse older and abandoned buildings to stop using up greenery and farms for housing estates
  • Instead of building up too much which = bad for the environment, focus on utilising already built areas
  • Development of abandoned buildings
  • Making buildings multiuse

Other:

  • Transport
  • Invest into something to bring the whole community together e.g. a community hub, and different affordable activities
  • More emphasis on how this increases sense of community
  • Will this take up more land than necessary?
  • How are these new regulations going to be implemented?
  • Doesn’t really talk about the functionality of buildings, just how they look
  • Easy to clean – Covid
  • When? Where? Or how?

Maximising Social Value

Academy participants felt that local communities need to be more involved in the decision-making process and that those making the decisions also need to be held accountable to take action. See below full list of responses to the question “Have we missed anything? Is there anything you’d like to add?”.

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

Comments broadly fell into the following categories:

  • Community involvement
  • Accountability of decision-makers.

Community involvement:

  • Community needs more input
  • Community input when building
  • People and the community should be
  • included in planning and development
  • Community input in planning stage
  • Everyone should be included
  • Community input in planning, all different groups not just one
  • These targets should be prioritised in poorer areas
  • Public benefit to the project
  • Inclusivity of all cultures and groups

Community involvement:

  • Community needs more input
  • Community input when building
  • People and the community should be
  • included in planning and development
  • Community input in planning stage
  • Everyone should be included
  • Community input in planning, all different groups not just one
  • These targets should be prioritised in poorer areas
  • Public benefit to the project
  • Inclusivity of all cultures and groups
  • Accountability of decision-makers:
  • If things become too unsustainable or
  • unbeneficial for the city, then hold them
  • accountable to act
  • Make sure those in charge, are properly held to account using laws
  • Making sure that the developers meet those targets but on deadlines
  • Holding people responsible
  • Making more buildings with the public
  • interests
  • Didn’t specify the social and environmental benefits.

Additional Session

We ran an additional online session with previous Academy participants on 27/10/2020. Four attended: two from the Digital Academy Programme 1 and two from the face-to-face PLACED Academy programme.

The two-hour workshop was a condensed version of the four-week Academy programme. Participants reflected on what the Objectives meant to them, what intervention they would like to see across the Liverpool City Region to meet these Objectives and what potential challenges there might be.

Some ideas can be seen below:

Next, the group reflected on how they would apply these broad themes in a practical way at local level through discussion and by visualising a high street (see below):

The participants reflected on which of the broad themes identified under the SDS Objectives was most important to them and selected their first, second, third, fourth and fifth priorities through an interactive presentation.

First priority

Second priority

Third priority

Fourth priority

Fifth priority

The table below shows the overall scores with both Tackling Climate Change and Addressing health inequalities ranked to be the top priorities for this group. Maximising social value was again voted the lowest priority. A reason for this could be because ‘social value’ seems relatively intangible and difficult to measure compared to the other Objectives and / or social value is embedded across all four other Objectives already.

Note: These scores were weighted, where the top priority was given a weighting of 5, and the lowest priority a weighting of 1.

The group were then presented with details of how Liverpool City Region intends to meet each

Objective (as per with the slides above). We asked the Academy participants to tell us to what extent they agree with these statements and what they felt was missing. The responses to each Objective follow.

Objective 1: Tackling climate change and creating a greener City Region

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

Have we missed anything? Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Objective 2: Addressing health inequalities and

creating a healthier City Region

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

Have we missed anything? Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Objective 3: Delivering an Inclusive Economy

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

Have we missed anything? Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Objective 4: Creating high quality buildings and places that allow our communities to flourish

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

Have we missed anything? Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Objective 5: Maximising Social Value from all

aspects of development

To what extent do you agree with these statements being suitable or able to achieve the Objective?

Have we missed anything? Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Added Value of Engagement

In addition to capturing young peoples’ views, undertaking engagement through the PLACED Academy generates significant added value and social impact. The opportunity for young people to input into the design and decision making process with regards to the built environment is a key element of the Academy programme. By being invited to input into the process, young people felt their voices matter. There were also other significant benefits.

The SDS engagement was delivered as part of one of two Academy programmes. Some of the key benefits of the

programmes are highlighted below. Whilst these were as a result of the programme as a whole, the SDS project was a key

element in their generation:

  • By the end of the Digital Academy programme, 76% felt they could help to shape decisions about where they live, with 100% saying they now know how the design of towns and cities can impact people. Being able to input into the SDS Objectives was key to this.
  • Engagement also helped to increase their understanding of how places are created. Initially, most of the students were unsure how places were de signed, what the process was or who was involved. By the time of their graduation, 94% felt they had a good understanding of these issues – a huge outcome for the next generation of place makers.
  • Participants developed skills through the programme, both specific to a career in the built environment and more broadly those that would help them in their studies in school and college. This included analytical, design, team working and presenting skills – all developed during the SDS engagement.
  • 95% of our young people said they had increased in confidence at the end of the programme.
  • Speaking with those working in the sector is critical in helping to shape young people’s understanding of the opportunities available, and the range of pathways available. 72% said the programme gave them an opportunity to make contacts with professionals. The work on the SDS enabled them to learn about different roles and career paths in the sector, in particular with regards to planning.

These outcomes demonstrate the additional social benefits gained from

engagement of young people through programmes such as the PLACED Academy.

“[Social Value]means embedding a sense of community and humanity – looking at the needs of people and catering to that”

“[Inclusive economy] means people not getting left out that don’t have some of the same things as people around them. They may not be able to afford the same things and might need help with that.

Academy Participants

Summary

The SDS Objectives provided the Academy with rich topics of discussion, not only with the participants but also amongst the Ambassadors supporting the sessions. The participants thought about these priorities at a variety of levels; from personal responses from their own experiences and perceptions, to applying the themes to a community building in their local area, a fictional high street, and considering the whole City Region

Combining the ranked Objectives

The ranked Objectives across the PLACED

Note: These scores were weighted, where the top priority was given a weighting of 5, and the lowest priority a weighting of 1. 

Overarching issues and

comments

Below are some of the key findings of this engagement:

  • Climate Change: Climate Change was the top priority across both engagements, with both clearly expressing that the target of 2040 felt not soon enough. There was a feeling of urgency for the LCR to ‘act now’ for now and future generations’ sustainability. The Objectives in this category were identified several times as being ‘too vague’ and lacking in timeframes and specific detail of how it would be achieved.
  • High quality buildings: When asked to identify what is missing or could be improved, participants noted there was no mention of affordable housing, and suggested ideas about renovating and refurbishing existing buildings instead of prioritising new builds. Throughout creative design sessions, high quality buildings were recognised for their ability to improve communities’ wellbeing and perception of their places. ‘Quality’ extended from the aesthetic of buildings, their functionality, and the services they provided.
  • Inclusive Economy: This Objective was also perceived to be too vague, again noting a lack of focus on affordable housing. It was expressed that the Objectives didn’t communicate clearly how this would be implemented or what it would look like as it was too broad and high-level. There were several mentions about the importance of providing support for small local businesses, which are not stated in the Objectives.
  • Addressing health inequalities: Participants expressed that they would like to see a clearer focus on mental health within this Objective, with some saying it was important enough to have its own sub-category. Affordability also received several mentions in regard to giving communities easier access to health services and healthier ways of living, such as cycle routes, gyms and investing in green spaces. There were further comments stating that this Objective lacked detail.
  • Social Value: Some Objectives were more challenging than others when presented with the task of identifying how they could be tangible to a place. This was particularly the case with social value. Social Value was considered to relate to community engagement and decision-making, which is difficult to encapsulate physically.
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