The first of the regional workshops took place in Manchester on Tuesday and was a resounding success. The event was hosted by Bruntwood in one of their impressively refurbished towers in the heart of Manchester and organised by Urbed with support from the Academy of Urbanism.

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Twenty four key figures from the region from local government, housing, arts, architecture practices, urban designers, engineers, landscape architects and educationalists attended. This was the first workshop to cover all four themes in the terms of reference and we were very grateful for everyone giving up three hours of their time to do so.

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There was a broad debate and focused discussion in the first half and the group then went on to identify the most important issues in the second. The debate centred around the issues that the group felt were most important and some strong consensus emerged about the public perception of architecture, endurability of places, skilling up of decision makers, whole life cost of projects and the all important question of value and relationship to good design.

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The group pointed to some interesting research and publications including books they had written and reports from other countries. An underlying theme was the importance of breaking down silos and joining up thinking which a built environment policy could potentially address.

One of the most appealing ideas was for ‘den making’ to be part of the primary school syllabus. Teaching spatial awareness and decision making to the next generation as early as possible can only be a good thing!

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A Netherlands born group member had some fascinating insights into the Dutch way of integrating disciplines and sectors and the session was expertly chaired by Robert Powell representing the expert advisory panel as well as Beam and Wakefield.

Many thanks to everyone involved, it was a hugely rewarding day and much food for thought.