Design and Place Shaping; engaging communities in public spaces - Middlesbrough

Thursday 13 February 2020, 9:30am
at The Old Fire Station, Middlesbrough
Event registration is now closed


This course will help delegates to develop projects which propose city centre improvements. As is set out in Para. 124 of the NPPF “Being clear about design expectations, and how these will be tested, is essential for achieving this. So too is effective engagement between applicants, communities, local planning authorities and other interests throughout the process.”. The day will cover engaging communities, understanding how heritage contributes to place, and developing briefs to inform the design process. 

Who should attend?

This course is for anyone engaged in developing proposals for city centre improvements, Project Officers, Planners, Regeneration Teams.

If you would like to find out more about whether this course is suitable for you, please e-mail:

Why should you join this course?

You should consider this course if you are planning or in the early stages of scoping city centre improvement or redesign. 


At the end of this course you will:

  • Understand the importance of brief development within the design process
  • Appreciate the range of communities which should be engaged in the process of brief development, and begin to consider how they can be welcomed in to the process.
  • Understand the contribution of heritage to Place-making and public realm.
  • Design a brief which includes consideration of the historic character of an area
  • Be familiar with the Planning Practice Guidance on Design and National Design Guide 

Please note: A maximum of 2 places/organisation will be available initially. Any additional requests for places should be sent to


  • 13/02/2020

    09:30 - 16:30

    Programme for the day

    To be confirmed.

    Please note this programme is subject to change.


Helen Graham

Associate Professor, Museums and Heritage; Democratic and Participatory Theory; Action and Participatory Research

Helen is an Associate Professor at the University of Leeds. Current research lies at the intersection of political theory and participative and action-led forms of research. With museums, heritage and place as a focus, I investigate political dynamics of property, rights and claims; of democracy; of agency and affinity. I do this through participative and action-led research methods, experimenting with how small-scale participatory work can be combined with large scale whole system action. These interests and approaches cohered as a result of work conducted as part of the co-designed AHRC Connected Communities project, How should heritage decisions be made? project (2013-2015). Helen also works in York in collaboration with architect Phil Bixby is a staging of large scale participatory public engagement process (My Future York / My Castle Gateway / My York Central) in key areas of urban regeneration and city-level development. The approaches developed through these projects have combined the personal through narrative, story-telling and imaginative methods to enable personal articulation (hence the 'my' in the project titles) with developing a new form of public sphere via inquiry-led forms of debate and discussion and an approach to change that actively works across scale from large scale institutional/government-led infrastructures and investment to tactical experiments and community-led action. 

Phil Bixby


Phil Bixby is an Architect and Certified Passivhaus Designer. He runs a sole practice (Constructive Individuals) and is half of the My Future York team. He has lived and worked in York for thirty years. His career has included running training courses for self-builders and many years working on training and project management with community self build projects across the north of England, and working on public engagement projects such as the York carriageworks redevelopment, the reshaping of Park Grove School following a major fire, and a number of projects involving improvements on gypsy and traveller sites in York and Leeds. In recent years he developed ideas on more radical approaches to public engagement and vision-making with Helen Graham and jointly devised and facilitated the My Castle Gateway and My York Central public engagement projects, together with work for York Museums Trust, English Heritage and the National Trust.

Jules Brown

Historic Places Adviser, Historic England

Jules is the Historic Places Adviser with responsibility for the Middlesbrough High Street Heritage Action Zone. He will be our Chair for the day. 

Registration Options

Standard Registration

Regional Priority Spaces

The Old Fire Station, Middlesbrough

Historic England Training