Place Making in the City of Wolverhampton – The Spirit of Possibility

Place Making Wolverhampton

This week, Strategic Director for Place at City of Wolverhampton Council, Tim Johnson talks to us about the cities place making journey.  

Why is Place Making important to Wolverhampton?

The City of Wolverhampton’s turned a new page, beginning a fresh chapter in its story. Tales of traditional, declining industries and of stalled investment due to economic downturn are fast becoming distant memories. Instead, the city is creating a new story for itself based on a changing place, people and of a growing city of opportunity.

Our city status is important to us. Granted at the turn of the millennium, it differentiates us and makes us part of a bigger, global club. We’re one of the top 20 biggest cities in the UK and one of three key cities within the resurgent West Midlands region.

But what makes our city different, what makes it unique? That’s the question we’ve been asking ourselves recently as we work with city partners to develop an effective ‘place strategy’ and new city brand identity. The aim of this is to be able to compete for talent, investment and resources with other areas.

How do you define effective Place Making?

Effective place making needs to build on or accentuate the very real characteristics of a place, its brands, businesses, people and those that govern it. It also needs effective support and buy-in from the many city partners that hold the key to the place brand, fully backing the agreed strategy and plan. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of doing this in partnership.

Marketing without authenticity is quickly perceived as propaganda, at best dismissed by audiences, and at worst it reinforces negative connotations that actively work against place marketing objectives.

We know our city faces many challenges but what pervades it now is a spirit of possibility based on real opportunities and positive changes local people can see and feel.

Where is Wolverhampton investing? 

With some £3.7 billion investment on-site or planned – including £50m on a new city centre train station, £55m on a new leisure-led development at Westside, £38m to fully restore our historic Civic Halls and well over a billion in hi-tech industries at i54 – we are a city on the move, visibly changing. And seeing is believing.

It’s so important that the public understands the need for growth and development, and that they become part of the journey rather than detractors.

What advice would you give to others? 

Place making isn’t simply about bringing in more tourists. It’s about attracting inward investment, opportunity and enhancing the city’s culture and heritage. Wulfrunians are spirited, original, diverse and joined by a sense of togetherness. We need them to be our biggest advocates and ambassadors. The spirit of possibility is only real if they feel it and believe it. It’s vital that you get your community on board by creating a vision that resonates with the the history of the place and the people. 

Westco worked with City of Wolverhampton Council to develop a place making strategy, to find out how we can support your place making process get in touch with Harvey Sandhu at