Leeds Social Sciences Institute

Conference explored the future of urban public space

Nearly 150 delegates attended a one-day conference and public exhibition that considered the challenges and opportunities for urban public space.  The post conference report provides a useful summary of the issues discussed during the day and ideas around potential future collaborative opportunities.

Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space – which was organised by Leeds Social Sciences Institute on Monday, 5 June 2017 – brought together academic researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to explore a number of contemporary themes and the manner in which they are played out in different types of public spaces, such as parks and edge regeneration areas.

The changing face of public space in Leeds was a major focus for discussion, as were new initiatives such as the South Bank Development, the city centre transport hub, markets, parks and commercial projects. These were considered within wider national and international trends, debates and innovations.

The event provided a forum to debate current issues and explore new collaborations. It also considered the sustainability of public spaces; how they might be used in the future; and their core values of ‘publicness’.

Watch the introduction with Professor Jeremy Higham,  Dean of the Faculty of ESSL, and Professor Adam Crawford, Director of Leeds Social Sciences Institute.

Keynote speeches

Keynote speeches were given by Sophie Watson, Professor of Sociology at the Open University, and Allison Dutoit, an Associate with Gehl Architects.

View Sophie’s presentation

Watch Sophie’s presentation.




View Allison’s presentation

Watch Allison’s presentation.




Parallel workshops were held in the morning that concentrated on types of urban public space, including marketplaces and commercial areas. In the afternoon further workshops took place that had a thematic focus, including clean air and liveable streets.

The sessions considered a number of key issues, such as the most prominent models or ideas for reimagining the future of public space.

Facilitators featured – among others – representatives from the Parks Alliance, National Market Traders Federation, Leeds City Council and Safer Leeds.

Roundtable discussion

The programme closed with a roundtable discussion with Anna Minton, Journalist / Author, University of East London; Matthew Bradbury, Parks Alliance; Irena Bauman, Architect; Angela Barnicle, South Bank Development; and Paul Chatterton, University of Leeds.

Watch the roundtable discussion.



Networking reception

The day concluded with an exhibition that provided delegates and members of the public with information about current research into urban public space developments in the region. Exhibitors included Leeds Civic Trust, the South Bank Development, and The Orchard Project.

Conference Report

A copy of the post-conference report is now available via this link


This entry was posted in News, Research, Supporting Impact, Supporting Interdisciplinarity, Uncategorized.

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