What is a toolkit?
A toolkit is a Planning Aid to support people to look at land uses, buildings and the landscape as the main variables in defining heritage character and local distinctiveness.
Toolkits are also useful in helping to assess the quality of places, relative to one another, in terms of how they are being used today, their ‘liveability’ and if they are fit for purpose for that neighbourhood’s activities. Our toolkit is unique as it has been developed around new town characteristics and we are now looking for volunteers to test how it works in real life situations with residents and community groups.
Why New Towns Heritage Toolkit?
Existing toolkits indirectly place more emphasis on historic locations and less on the infrastructure and landscape setting – natural or man-made – which New Towns were designed to address.
The 1946 New Towns Act provided opportunities for new and more modern ideas about how people might live to be developed. Those involved actively sought to address urban problems through different models for housing, employment and commercial buildings and public space design, and to design settlements strategically as a whole, rather than piecemeal.
Our New Towns Heritage Toolkit (NTHT) enables that model to be more clearly articulated and conveyed to others, whether it is about:
- the distribution of land uses,
- the nature of the residential areas,
- the transport community infrastructure,
- the setting of buildings, or the architecture itself.
The aim of the toolkit?
The toolkit is intended to help non-professional users
- To source historic information about the place
- To understand what decisions have shaped it and why they were significant at the time;
- To record their observations as a list of features and characteristics;
- To view historic decisions and today’s character alongside the contemporary policy context or other modern living pressures, addressing ideas of sustainability, efficient land use, social exclusion or community cohesion, health and wellbeing, etc.
- To draw conclusions on how to manage, adapt or change places in the future.
The benefits of the toolkit?
The benefits of the toolkit are
- greater awareness of what makes a place unique.
- better communications between those involved in managing change.
- a recognition of what future decision-making could do to improve, or perhaps undermine, the character of places.