Business Engagement Innovation Lab on Placemaking co-funds an exciting new inclusive process for engaging young people in place-making in Trafford

The ‘Placeholders’ project is a co-funded research collaboration between Bruntwood Group Ltd. and The University of Manchester, it developed as an outcome from the new approach to working with business and community called the Business Engagement Innovation Lab on Placemaking.

The project aims were to create and test a process for engaging young people within urban development. It was formulated in response to Bruntwood’s commitment to involving local communities within their development of Stretford Mall in Greater Manchester, targeting the traditionally harder-to-reach demography of young people.

The project was a fantastic opportunity for colleagues from across the University to bring their civic  and community engagement expertise to benefit the work. The core team: Dr Abigail Gilmore, as academic lead, project management from Carl Fraser, expertise from postgraduate researchers Elena Brearley and Ailbhe Treacy collaborated with experts across the faculties. Dr Joanne Tippett brought her expertise in community engagement through the Ketso methodology. The University team was also advised by Professor Andrew Miles and Professor John Mcauliffe, Director, Creative Manchester. The collaborators at Bruntwood (led by Andrea George and including Bethany Adam and Hayley Flynn) brought rich industry perspectives on placemaking, consultation and social impact through project meetings.

Scoping research and analysis of #BeeWell Home – #BeeWell ( data and existing consultation research helped the team identify perspectives on and barriers to participation. This stage shaped the questions raised within consultation through participatory engagement events, concerning usage, access, aesthetics and sustainability of amenities and green spaces. The team identified key contacts with 50 community organisations and delivered a series of events involving the participation of over 100 young people from the Stretford area between April and November 2022.

Recommendations from the engagement include the use of participatory creative activities, such as those facilitated by the Ketso method, at events co-hosted in spaces and organisations where young people are already likely to be and where they have the confidence to join in. They also included the suggestion to involve youth engagement earlier in the planning stages.

Following this pilot collaboration, this project could pave the way for this level of youth engagement in future development opportunities across the Greater Manchester area.

  • To find out please contact Karen Gamble-Flowers, Business Engagement Officer, Faculty of Humanities.