Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea looks to boost creative industries through planning system

Design Museum

Kensingston and Chelsea council in west London is aiming to become one of the first councils across the country to put culture and the creative industries at the heart of its planning system in a bid to boost its local economy.

The London borough has published a set of proposals that would see undertake a borough-wide approach to ‘cultural ‘placemaking and to integrate culture into the borough’s economic development through planning.

The council’s new ‘cultural placemaking’ proposals, developed in partnership with Futurecity and BOP Consulting, aim to build on the council’s existing Arts and Culture Policy in a bid to foster a more sustainable creative economy.

The council said it is home to 4,000 creative businesses, with over 15% of its employment in the creative and cultural sector. It said 30% of the borough’s business units house creative and cultural businesses.

Nicholas Paget-Brown, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for transportation, environment and leisure, said: “The borough’s economic future and the vibrancy of our neighbourhoods are closely linked to the success of our creative industries, tourism and the cultural sector.

“The council’s role here is one of a catalyst - bringing developers together with creative organisations and residents to explore what is possible and provide direction. We are not prescribing certain solutions, we want developers to take inspiration from the cultural placemaking approach and come up with bold ideas for their sites.

“We particularly feel our major strategic development sites are ripe for this form of approach and have already started to explore the options in our proposals.”

Mark Davy, founder and director of cultural agency Futurecity said: “Our ten-year experience shows that by integrating arts, culture and the creative industries at the start of any new development provides solid, positive, social and economic returns.

“It involves the local population, builds stronger neighbourhoods and creates places where people want to live, work, shop and relax. This in turn has economic benefits for businesses operating in the area through increased occupation rates, footfall and dwell time.”

Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s cultural placemaking proposals

The proposals include:

  • Placing cultural commerce and the creative industries at the heart of the Council’s future economic development through planning.
  • Applying the concept of ‘cultural placemaking’ right across Kensington and Chelsea - “viewing the borough as a tapestry of existing and possible creative districts and neighbourhoods, which can realise their full potential through cultural placemaking.”
  • A new Creative District Profiler developed by Futurecity and BOP Consulting, to assist in cultural placemaking.
  • The opportunity for internationally significant collaborations between developers and the creative and cultural sectors to produce bold new ideas.

The proposals call on developers seeking to work in the council to:

  • Embed culture and the creative industries into their thinking right from the start of the development process.
  • Be more imaginative and bold in their thinking and proposals, in particular masterplanning design, the animation of new places and creative and commercial ideas for the public realm.
  • Explore and anchor the heritage and contemporary cultural context of their sites as fully as possible.
  • Work with the Creative District Profiler to identify the potential of a proposed site to become a creative district.
  • Brand and animate their developments, through interventions, temporary creative spaces and long-term cultural provision, partnerships and programming.
  • Be active in forming creative partnerships with the Royal Borough’s diverse communities, local and international cultural providers and the creative industries to influence development
  • Form long-term partnerships with cultural providers to influence the style and content of cultural amenities, not merely their existence.