What is a toolkit?
A toolkit is a Planning Aid to support neighbourhood plans, and they look at land uses, buildings and the landscape as the main variables in defining the character and local distinctiveness.
Toolkits are also useful in helping to objectively assess the quality of places, relative to one another, in terms of how they are being used today, and ambience generated by a place’s characteristics.
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 in drawing up the plans for the New Towns 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 as piecemeal development.
The development of a New Towns Heritage Toolkit (NTHT) would enable that passion and enthusiasm 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 conscious 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 pressures, addressing ideas of sustainability, efficient land use, social exclusion or community cohesion, 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.