Heart of the Matter

Getting to grips with whole place transformation

Work in progress

Heart of the Matter

Driven by the dynamics of a new political cycle, we are on the edge of a major shift in how we shape our built environment, set our economic ambitions, create inclusive place ambitions and deliver local public services.

This sea change will shift the paradigm of place-based provision for the next decade as all the elements – social, economic, demographic as well as the environmental and physical – combine.

The circumstances call for an agenda for reform encompassing the positive hopes of devolution and community empowerment without shying away from the sombre realities of limited fiscal headroom and previous years of sluggish economic growth.

Heart of the Matter is a research project which seeks, through extensive dialogue with public service directors and independent place research, to ascertain the appetite for holistic service and placemaking transformation.

This will be undertaken amid the changing tectonic plates of local government resourcing, structure, workforce and institutional capability.

The desired intention is to present a study detailing emerging good practice in whole place planning and service transformation, and to devise a modern philosophy and ethos for local delivery that will endure through the coming decade of necessary change and hope-filled reform.

Our research programme will inform the following four thematic areas of crucial strategic significance for the local state:

  • Economic growth;
  • Place leadership;
  • Service transformation;
  • Analytics, innovation and AI.

Each of the four key themes will in turn be addressed in the context of.

  • State of local government finances and resourcing.
  • Capacity for collaborative place leadership.
  • Workforce skills and capability.
  • Role of communities in decision-making and relational public services.

The aim is to understand the conditions for, and challenges of, reforming and improving public services across these strategic service areas, within each of the key themes.

The report will conclude with recommendations to central and local government on what policy reforms are necessary to ensure local government and its partners are able to deliver for their place in a way which is strategic and sustainable into the 2030s.

Research sponsored by: