Design research for the Campaign to Protect Rural England - CPRE Sussex approached Rabble and Action in Rural Sussex about the Making Places Project in autumn 2015. The CPRE had two aims: 1 to begin a conversation focused on the need for planning and design to create attractive and lively places and 2 to record local design values and knowledge in order to work out how the qualities of existing places might inform future proposals.
The CPRE Sussex Making Places Workshop was held twice in the winter of 2015. Seven parishes were invited, 4 from the Chichester A27 corridor and 3 from the south coast near Brighton. The invited parishes were asked to nominate up to 5 people to attend the workshop who were confident representing the views of their community. These could be Parish Councillors, members of the NP Steering Group or other local residents with a keen interest in design and planning issues. Attendees were asked to read the Making Places Booklet and provided with tasks and ideas for consideration prior to the workshop.

The booklet was designed to help attendees start considering the following two questions: 1 What is the distinctive character of the settlement and its buildings in terms of size, shape, proportion, scale and materials? 2 How should these objective and subjective characteristics inform the design decisions of architects, developers, planners, householders and highways authorities?
During the workshops each parish's map became the focus of their table. The attendees were asked to consider the maps as backcloths provided to assist creative annotation. As groups addressed the workshop's 3 topics, conversations and individual points were added to the maps with pencil and crayon as a record and more importantly as a way of visualising the depth of local knowledge and opinion across three scales. This recording technique produced fascinating, complex yet clear drawings.

The Making Places Report was launched at the RIBA in November 2016. Hank Dittmar, Robin Hambleton and Shaun Spiers discussed the limitations of neighbourhood plans, the potential agency of local design projects and the imperative to engage with landowners from the outset. Rabble explained our Making Places methods and copies of the report were sent to CPRE regional offices, MPs, rural housing / planning organisations and the parish councils involved. Funding for Making Place phase II is being considered.