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  • Writer's pictureBridgette Macilwaine

Kent Design Conference 2024

Planning for a Sustainable Future - The coming years will see huge challenges and opportunities with regards to housing delivery, placemaking, net zero carbon, and health and wellbeing.

A brilliant and inspirational day hearing from various disciplines, practices, council members and designers hosted by Design South East held at the Sibson Building at University of Kent. The day was separated into morning talks and presentations, with the afternoon offering further discussions and workshops.

We were delighted to attend the Kent Design Conference this week, and share a short talk on the Future of Rural landscapes as relates Biodiversity Net Gain, which covered three brief topics of Resilience, Employment and Habitat value.

It was a great pleasure to hear from Rebecca Lamb (Sevenoaks District Council) and Elizabeth Milne (Kent County Council), as part of our panel presentations and discussions topic "Planning for Rural Communities" and to see an update from the brilliant work they've been passionately driving forward.

Local nature recovery strategy:

Elizabeth Milne highlighted the vital role of nature in enhancing the quality of life and resilience of rural areas, emphasizing the importance of integrating rich green spaces into development plans.

The Making Space for Nature in Kent and Medway strategy is working with partners and stakeholders to collaboratively establish shared priorities for the delivery of nature recovery and environmental improvements, in order to create a network of wildlife-rich places across the county. 

Other topics presented and discussed:

  • creating sustainable new communities;

  • design codes;

  • biodiversity net gain goals and constraints;

  • regenerating town centres;

  • healthy placemaking;

  • decarbonizing new development;

  • Otterpool Park garden town;

  • strategic sites in Kent;

  • Ebbsfleet development;

  • arts-led regeneration;

  • effective digital engagement.

The full days events included numerous thought-provoking and inspiring topics and projects, which encouraged discussions aimed at shaping the future of communities, landscapes, and development in the region.

When it comes to envisioning resilient and vibrant future communities, conclusions from the day included the importance of collaboration and integrated planning and design, green infrastructure, and community engagement.

Thanks to Julia Thrift from Town and Country Planning Association, Joanne Preston, Office for Place and Ross O'Ceallaigh from Design South East for setting the scene for the day.

Other valuable contributors included:

  • Joanne Cave, David Lock Associates

  • Julia Wallace, Otterpool Park LLC

  • Paula Hirst, Disruptive Urbanism

  • Mark Pullin, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation

  • Nick Pollock, Duchy of Cornwall

  • Ben Coleman, PJA

  • Chloe Street-Tarbatt, University of Kent

  • Simon Thomas, Canterbury City Council

  • Annette Russell, Margate Creative Land Trust

  • Matt Rain, Folkestone and Hythe District Council

  • Duncan Berntsen, Medway Council

  • Andrew Dobson, JTP

  • Claire Pamberi & Paul Clarke, Kent County Council

  • Sophie Ward, Active Kent and Medway

  • Eleanor Trenfield, EDLA

  • Chloe Street Tarbatt, University of Kent

  • Helen Goodwin, Design South East

  • Sponsors included JTP LLP and Corstorphine & Wright

We thoroughly enjoyed attending the conference, and look forward to many more engaging discussions.

Many thanks to the team at Design South East for organising this brilliant and successful day (Design South East team in the group image above). They're an independent not-for-profit organisation working across the wider south east, delivering expert design advice, facilitation and training for local authorities, the development sector and communities.

Many thanks to the University of Kent for hosting us and offering the use of the Sibson building, with spacious meeting/training rooms, presentation equipment and foyer areas.


Thanks for reading, any questions, we would love to hear from you!


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