First Saturday Workshop takes place!

On Saturday 17th September, we held our first monthly Saturday workshop with the PLACED Academy 2022 cohort, one of eight design workshops that will take place during the programme. The session was funded by Wirral Council, one of our Gold Sponsors, who wanted to ask for the groups’ feedback into plans for Dock Branch Park, Birkenhead. 

We invited participants to reflect upon the idea of ‘place identity’ and ‘high-density urban living’ in light of the ongoing Birkenhead 2040 Regeneration Framework. Responding to the Dock Branch masterplan site, our young people produced mind maps, collages and ideas for co-housing for multiple demographic groups through mixed-media models, taking inspiration from exemplar international housing schemes, the site itself after attending a site visit, and an overview of the regeneration project by Cathy Palmer from Wirral Council.

Each of our six groups of participants considered the living requirements of families, professionals, young adults or older people, as well as pets. Their ideas included communal housing complexes for couples to live in alongside older people, a contemporary imagining of traditional red brick terraces incorporating sustainability measures such as ground source heat pumps and solar panels, and a housing block split vertically in line with the accessibility requirements of each demographic group.

One group took inspiration from New York brownstones (complimenting the local sandstone of Birkenhead’s Hamilton Square townhouses), and another proposing a sculptural apartment block that would act as a new landmark for Birkenhead, like the brick-clad ventilation towers for the Queensway Tunnel participants observed on-site. Others proposed reusing existing transit infrastructure by reinstating the historic railway lines and arches that run through Dock Branch. Many groups suggested communal spaces, including indoor and outdoor planted areas, parks, play areas for children, and shared balconies, providing opportunities for chance social interactions between residents.

We were thrilled with the work the group produced in just a few short hours, and very grateful to Wirral Council, and in particular Cathy Palmer, for making the session possible.

Academy 2022 summer school

PLACED Academy 2022-23 launched at the end of July, kicking off with a four-day summer school for 36 of our cohort of 45 young participants from across the Northwest, held at the University of Liverpool School of Management.

The programme included a variety of activities about the built environment, designed to unleash creativity and strengthen interpersonal skills. The cohort undertook drawing and modelling activities, interactive games and challenges about the built environment designed to develop their skills and knowledge.

Liverpool City Region Combined Local Authority (LCRCA) introduced the week, with a presentation about their ongoing Spatial Development Strategy (SDS). The SDS was a central theme for the programme, and this introduction sparked many exciting ideas and conversations.

The group started the week by reflecting on the draft planning principles being developed for the SDS. They considered what was important to them and why and reflected on how well their own area is currently doing. Following this was the main task for the week – the design of a unique neighbourhood for one of six sites across the City Region. Working in groups, the cohort developed designs inspired by LCRCA’s Spatial Development Strategy priorities and the smart city concept of a ’15-minute neighbourhood’.

Over the week, participants built on their design knowledge and skills, learning how to develop a proposal in response to a brief and gaining a clearer understanding of design processes and careers in the sector. Alongside learning more about the built environment, they have strengthened their skills in teamwork, leadership, communication, and public speaking.

The summer school ended with a celebratory exhibit of final designs for invited parents and carers and a much-deserved acknowledgment from Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram who presented each participant with a graduation certificate. He also explained how their views would help to shape LCRCA’s work going forward.

Youth Voice – what did the group identify as the priorities for Liverpool City Region?

A key aim of the Academy is to empower young people and amplify their voice in the decision-making process. The support from our Academy Partner LCRCA has enabled participants to have their say on what development principles they feel should be prioritised, helping to shape policy and future development across the region.

Participants believe it is key to consider the impact on the environment, including protecting green spaces and more efficient energy use from renewable sources (solar, wind, water). They prioritised designing places that are accessible, inclusive and that encourage healthier, more sustainable ways of living. They also highlighted the need for high quality buildings that showcase innovative architecture and will bring in tourism to the region.

Next steps

We are so impressed and proud of what our cohort has achieved so far and can’t wait to see them continue to develop over the remaining months of the programme. The next workshop will take place in September and will be delivered in partnership with our Gold Sponsor, Wirral Council.


The Academy aims to break down barriers to the built environment, recruiting young people from a diverse range of backgrounds and sharing information about the study and career routes available to them.

For many, this was their first time at a university, and we would like to thank our Venue Sponsor for providing a positive, welcoming space on campus for creative learning. Their support has benefitted the young people and helped to inspire the next generation of built environment professionals.

The week would not have been possible without input from our Ambassadors, who supported participants each day through their continuous guidance, sharing their professional knowledge and insight into the design process and careers in the sector. A huge thank you to all who volunteered.

We would also like to thank our Academy Partner Liverpool City Region Combined Local Authority, for taking the time to inform, attend and support the session, as well as listening to the views of young people. We know their ideas have been heard and valued.

And finally, a thank you to all our Sponsors, without whom this programme would not be possible.

Read more about 15-minute cities

The concept of 15-minute cities was created by Carlos Moreno and involves ensuring every citizen’s needs are met through provision of diverse and connected services, homes, facilities, and amenities, accessible within a (safe) 15-minute walking distance. You can learn more here.

university of liverpool

“We are interested in understanding the ways in which we plan for and respond to social, economic and environmental change in the built environment. This is why we are excited to support the PLACED Academy, which will equip young people with the knowledge and skills to make a difference to the planning and management of our cities.


The Department of Geography and Planning is based in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool. We are concerned with the different ways in which we respond to and manage aspects of environmental, economic and social change in the built environment. The world’s first planning school was established at the University of Liverpool and, today, we are a leading global centre of excellence in professional planning education and research. We seek to understand, explain and address the planning challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century through the delivery of high quality degree programmes and world-leading research.

The University of Liverpool School of Management is a world class teaching facility. As a base for the Academy Summer School, it was able to give students access and insight into the facilities and opportunities that the university offers.