Interested in the shape of cities to come? Add your voice to ENGAGE: a series of debates inviting some of the world’s leading figures on urban design to our city, to discuss urban design and the future of the modern metropolis.

Canadian architect and academic Trevor Boddy will be the first speaker in a series of three seminars on the future of Liverpool city centre and its distinctive neighbourhoods.

Kicking off the Cities for People series this Wednesday, November 7, Prof Boddy will explain how Vancouver transformed itself into one of the top five cities for wellbeing in the world – and a city constantly in the top five of all those ‘desirable places to live’ polls you paw over in Wallpaper and Monocle.

Also on the panel are Dr Janet Speake, senior lecturer in Human Geography, Hope Uni; Jenny Douglas, head of area priorities, Liverpool Vision; and Erin Walsh, urban designer and planer, formerly senior urban designer at LCC. So it plans to be a meaty, fascinating evening’s talk.

Following on from this, on November 21, will be a talk exploring the unique neighbourhoods of Liverpool’s city centre. The final seminar, on December 5, will focus on how to encourage a truly diverse set of people to live in the city centre.

The seminars, which have been sponsored by Plus Dane Group and The Peel Group (the Liverpool Waters people) have been organised by Engage Liverpool, which works on behalf of apartment residents in the city to improve their quality of life.

Handily, the talks co-incide with the city’s new Strategic Investment Framework we talked about last week. So the timing is perfect.

Chair of Engage, Gerry Proctor, said: “To be able to attract an academic of Prof Boddy’s standing is a real achievement and shows how those involved in the cutting edge of urban design are looking closely at Liverpool’s ambitious development and investment plans.

“Anyone who is interested in the city’s future – and how that future must include more distinctive and inclusive neighbourhoods within the city centre – will find these talks both timely and important.

“Liverpool’s last 10 year plan delivered major improvements to the city such as the Lime Street Gateway, the Arena and Convention Centre, the Liverpool ONE shopping centre and the new commercial and knowledge districts, as we look ahead to the next 15 years, it is vital we grasp the challenges and opportunities and make sure Liverpool places just as great an emphasis on wellbeing as commercial growth.

“The planning and design of apartments that cater for people of all backgrounds and ages is a crucial part of that mix. By nurturing truly inclusive and distinctive city centre neighbourhoods, Liverpool will continue to grow and prosper.”

Prof Boddy’s talk on The Vancouver Model, takes place at the Capstone Theatre, Hope University, on November 7. The seminar on Distinctive Neighbourhoods, featuring a presentation by architect and lecturer Dominic Wilkinson, takes place on November 21 at Liverpool John Moores University’s Art and Design Academy.

The final debate, on Inclusive Neighbourhoods, which will be led by Miles Falkingham, director of FVMA Architects and will feature contributions from Ken Perry, Chief Executive of Plus Dane Group, and Liverpool City Council’s head of planning Grant Butterworth, is at Liverpool Community College’s Learning Exchange.

Tickets for the talks, which all begin at 5.30pm, are free of charge but as there is likely to be high demand, registration is essential at:

7 November

One Response to “Cities For People: The Engage Debates”

  1. The talk itself was interesting although a little disappointing. A good turn out, well run (well done Engage), with a great commentary and question and answer session but I thought what let down the evening was Mr Boddy’s presentation. The presentation was mildly amusing in parts but didn’t really touch on what was advertised. More an advert on Vancover’s architecture nothing much on communities or town planning.

    In fact i’d go so far as to say my impression of Vancouver from Mr Boddy’s hour long talk is of an un-inclusive, soulless city whose only occupants seem to be the people who can afford the expensive apartments and townhouses. People who can’t afford them are priced out, forced to move to the less affluent parts of the city, or the neighbouring city of Surrey. And these areas seem to be the places where the city’s untouched issues seem to fester; “alcoholism”, “drug dens”, “slums” as described by Mr Boddy.

    Of a city with only two or three distinctive areas, the bad areas of town (China town was mentioned a few times), the expensive central area of town and the beautiful Stanley park.

    One recent development which was discussed in depth was near to a place called False Creek, a huge piece of land sold to a private developer for next to nothing (sounds familiar). The provision for affordable housing in the schemes in the city seem to have been conveniently forgotten. According to Mr Boddy, ~20% of any development should be set aside for affordable housing, although there is no date by which this housing has to be build. This was graphically depicted by a slide of the new harbour development at False Creek littered with large asterisks, meant to represent the affordable high rises that will eventually be build when the developer can be bothered (still not done).

    I feel sorry for the people of Vancouver whose main industry was described as property development. The global recession is just starting to hit there, if that is their main industry then they’re a bit buggered for the next few years. Moreover from what was hinted at, Vancouver’s model for transformation is funded by selling its soul, by destroying it’s heritage, building boring ubiquitous glass monoliths, with the local amenities mostly saved for only the residents who dwell in these glass spires.

    Only once the question and answer session started did we start to get to point of the evening.

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