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Why we made a placemaking toolkit for the LGBT community


An LGBT+ place-making toolkit has been published to support the protection and development of LGBT+ spaces and places. Yohanna Weber of Planning Out, the network behind the toolkit, explains why it matters

We were prompted to create the Toolkit by the findings of a study released by UCL Urban Laboratory in 2017(1)  which found that in the previous ten years alone, 58% of LGBT+ clubs, bars and performance spaces in London had closed, dropping from 125 to 53.

We believe that LGBT+ venues and businesses provide a rich and diverse array of facilities and services, which don't just support the lives of the LGBT+ community, but enrich the overall fabric of our society. 

In London, the UCL findings have helped to inform the preparation of the Mayor's Cultural Infrastructure Plan (https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/arts-and-culture/culture-and-good-growth/cultural-infrastructure-plan). This provides valuable policy and decision-making support for the protection and promotion of creative and cultural areas, including for LGBT+ uses.  

There have also been a string of important planning decisions in recent years that have highlighted novel and innovative ways of achieving greater protection for LGBT+ places and spaces. We realised that there was a need to bring these various resources together into one central place of reference – and to make it useful for LGBT+ communities outside London as well.

Planning Out?

Planning Out was established in London in July 2016.  It is a forum run by and for LGBT+ professionals in the town planning sector to develop networks across the industry.  We now have over 500 members from the public and private sectors, in planning and related professions such as surveyors and land professionals, architects, transport planners, urban designers, planning lawyers and public affairs consultants. 

We also aim to influence the planning system through policy-making and best practice to encourage greater acceptance and visibility of the needs of the LGBT+ community. 

This toolkit is intended to build on the findings of these documents and decisions, and to be a resource for members of the LGBT+ community to help them better navigate the planning system. It aims to provide guidance and improve understanding of the various types of regulation in order to protect an LGBT+ venue from acquisition or development, to hold an event or festival, to temporarily use a space for community purposes or even fly rainbow flags.

The toolkit aims to ensure that LGBT+ spaces and places continue to form an important part of the social framework of our communities, facilitated by a planning system that seeks to be fully representative of the diversity of the community it serves.

We are delighted to have had the full support of the Mayor of London and the Night Czar Amy Lame in this endeavour, as well as the RTPI, and will be launching the Toolkit at City Hall on 12 July 2019.

Yohanna Weber is a partner, planning and environment with Fieldfisher and a committee member of Planning Out

(1) LGBTQ+ Cultural Infrastructure in London: Night Venues, 2006-present, July 2017 – Dr Ben Campkin & Lo Marshall

Photo | iStock


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