Leading Places

Leading Places is an innovative pilot programme that supports councils, universities and other local institutions to work together on meeting the key challenges facing their local residents and businesses.


Leading Places has been developed in partnership between the LGA, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and Universities UK. The programme progressed as powers have been devolved from national to local government and builds on research by Professor John Goddard and Louise Kempton which highlights the opportunities for councils, universities and other anchor institutions to work together to help drive growth, re-design public services and strengthen civic participation.

This initial phase of the programme concluded in March 2017 and was independently evaluated by Dr Peter O'Brien

Leading Places phase 2 partnerships

Following the success of the first phase, an expanded second phase of the Leading Places programme launched in July 2017 supporting fifteen partnerships across England within the context of the government’s new Industrial Strategy, which places a fresh emphasis on institutional capacity as a key driver of local growth.

These partnerships are now actively pursuing a range of local projects, including the development of a county-wide skills strategy in Buckinghamshire, the co-design of physical activity interventions for young people in Bedford and the delivery of a smart city strategy in Nottingham.

Find more information on the individual projects below.

Who are the partners?

Bedford Borough Council (including the Sports Development, Early Help and Public Health teams), University of Bedfordshire (including the Vice Chancellor’s office and the Faculty of Health, Education, Sport and Social Science) and East London NHS Foundation Trust (who provide child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) across Bedfordshire).

What challenge are you looking to address?

There is growing awareness of the emotional and social pressures faced by children and young people, and around half of those with mental ill health will experience their first symptoms before they are 14 years old. The partners recognise the importance of helping children and young people to build emotional resilience and intervening early when the first signs of emotional or mental ill health emerge. The benefits of sport and physical activity for mental wellbeing are clear but engagement tends to decline as children grow up, and some of those who would benefit most face the greatest barriers to participation.

What are the outcomes you’re trying to achieve?

The partnership will explore the positive impact of participation in physical activity upon low level emotional and mental health issues in secondary aged young people. Partners will seek to understand potential barriers to participation in physical activity for those young people and use the learning from this project to secure external funding to extend and expand this work. Finally, the partnership will use the learning to help educational settings and sports clubs to evaluate how they engage with young people and broaden their accessibility and appeal.

Why was this project chosen?

Leading Places has brought together academia, local government and service providers and harnessed the shared desire of partners to improve the engagement of young people in sport, and realise the benefits for positive mental health. This project builds on an existing initiative for young people and makes the most of the strengths the partnership has to offer, including: existing resource to deliver the programme enhanced with student volunteers; expertise in health psychology and evaluation; an innovative ‘early help’ offer and strong engagement with children and young people. This project will strengthen local partnerships and provide a template for future collaborations to drive growth, enhance our public services and increase civic participation.

Who are the partners?

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Blackburn College and Lancaster University.

What challenge are you looking to address?

The partnership are looking to address the challenge of physical inactivity and poor diet amongst a growing section of the population in older industrial areas like Blackburn with Darwen, which can lead to chronic and debilitating ill health conditions.
The partnership are therefore proposing a healthy social movement to galvanise the community and health professionals to deliver wholesale behaviour change, making physical activity and healthy eating an easier choice and promoting new interventions across health education and policy locally.      

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

The key outcomes sought include:

  • To achieve a future generation fit for life, learning and employment with reduced illness and improved wellbeing
  • To reduce dependency on mainstream health services and empower individuals and communities
  • To achieve a better understanding of healthy social movements, how they start, develop and how they are sustained and transferred to other places  
  • To support the development of local health service Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).

Why was this project chosen?

The project was chosen because it addresses a pressing problem faced by the local community - and many others – of increasing and entrenched poor health.  The problem is growing and cannot be addressed long term using current methods and clinical solutions.

This project will make use of partner expertise and specialisms, while the historic links between Lancaster University and Blackburn with Darwen (along with the strategic priorities of these organisations) made this an obvious choice. Likewise Blackburn College provides vocational training in health services, and offers a diverse, locally-based control group of young people.             

Project details to follow.

Who are the partners?

Buckinghamshire County Council are working in partnership with Buckinghamshire New University, Buckingham University, Aylesbury College, Wycombe College, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership and Buckinghamshire Business First.

What challenge are you looking to address?

The partnership are using Leading Places to support the development of a skills strategy and plan for Buckinghamshire.  The programme will enable education, businesses and other public institutions to actively contribute to the economic success of the area, and it will also enable the alignment of resources to key priorities and measureable outcomes. 

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

Key outcomes sought through the project include:

  • Developing a co-ordinated skills strategy and action plan which positively impacts on the whole of the community. 
  • Driving down the skills shortages and gaps, making Buckinghamshire a thriving and sustainable county.
  • Positioning the county to be able to meet future growth demands head on and as a result attracting new businesses and skills.
  • Develop a culture of collaborative working across education, public institutions and businesses that will enable more effective place based leadership.

Why was this project chosen?

The Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP currently hosts a Skills Board and this Board has had a number of successes including the development of a Skills Hub to optimise links between employers and educators.  Although the Skills Board has had success, the partners believe that it has far greater potential to drive forward a collaborative agenda around skills. 

The project therefore provides an ideal opportunity to develop a long lasting legacy of a partnership-led skills strategy for Buckinghamshire

Who are the partners?

The lead partners are Gloucestershire County Council and the University of Gloucestershire.

The non-exhaustive list of supporting partners includes: Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold District Council, Forest of Dean District Council, GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership, Gloucester City Council, Royal Agricultural University, Stroud District Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council.

What challenge are you looking to address?

The Gloucestershire project is focused on how to improve the long-term, strategic leadership of the County and specifically to ensure that Gloucestershire fulfils its potential for economic development.

The project will support the development of a vision for 2050 and beyond, which includes strategic, social, and economic initiatives for the county. This will include the development of new partnerships and the strengthening of existing ones.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

Ultimately, the people of Gloucestershire will benefit from this project, as it will help to improve the quality of life and economic, social, and cultural wellbeing of the county through effective leadership. 

Why was this project chosen?

In light of ongoing structural change, collaborative leadership has been an important topic of debate for many of Gloucestershire's institutions. The project was proposed to, and accepted by, the Leadership Gloucestershire forum, which represents a number of different public sector bodies. The idea of collaborative leadership was already in discussion, but it was decided that the ‘how' could be addressed through the Leading Places programme.

Who are the partners?

Hull City Council and the University of Hull.

What challenge are you looking to address?

At a time when being UK City of Culture has brought much-needed success in terms of profile, confidence and business investment, coinciding with unprecedented levels of employment and opportunity, it is crucial that the whole city population can benefit from growth. Through this project the partners will therefore be looking at how they can contribute to driving inclusive growth in the city.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

The project will look to ensure that the City Leadership Board, a body comprising leaders from the private, public, education and third sectors, arrives at innovative solutions to be able to deliver sustainable and inter-generational inclusive growth, identified as a fundamental principle of the City Plan.

Why was this project chosen?

The project was chosen as it is a priority for the City Leadership Board and its constituent members and because it comes at a time when the city can look to tackle this issue by building on the cultural and economic success outlined above.

Who are the partners? 

Keele University, Staffordshire County Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SSLEP), and University Hospital of North Midlands.

What challenge are you looking to address?

To provide an enhanced research and innovation (R&I) infrastructure in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire with capacities to develop R&I excellence in identified areas of comparative advantage.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

Key outcomes sought by the project include:

  • To promote and increase investment by Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) in R&I through the development of the strength and number of collaborative links between enterprises and centres of R&I excellence.
  • To redress the identified lack of innovation performance in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
  • To underpin the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire transition to a higher value added economy through investing in a geographic location(s) with a proven track record and capacity for high value job creation in key priority sectors.

Why was this project chosen?

The project focuses on some of the key enduring challenges for the SSLEP area in supporting its transition to a competitive, high value economy by addressing the lack of R & I activity among local SMEs, along with the lack of high value, knowledge intensive business creation.

Who are the partners?

London South Bank University are working in partnership with the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, London Borough of Lambeth, London Borough of Southwark, Lambeth College and Young Lambeth Coop.

What challenge are you looking to address?

The creative industries in London are worth around £35 billion GVA. They are also a key employer in the London economy providing almost 800,000 jobs in 2014. Despite continued growth potential there are significant challenges facing the sector. These include: lack of affordable workspace, underrepresentation of women and BAME groups and a skills shortage with declining sources of talent. The partnership is looking at how to address these issues locally in the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

To drive inclusive growth in the creative and digital industries (CDI), the partnership will look to:

  • raise awareness around CDI roles and career paths
  • ensure there are clear routes into CDI careers for under-represented groups
  • identify, create and manage affordable spaces for emerging CDI businesses
  • support attraction and clustering of CDI business within Southwark and Lambeth to ensure sufficient upskilling and employment opportunities, leading to sustainable economic growth.

Why was this project chosen?

The local authorities are already active in supporting the CDI and the challenges facing the sectors are of key economic interest. Both LSBU and LCC/UAL have a breadth of knowledge, skills and experience across the creative landscape. Expanding the creative ecosystem to include colleges, universities and youth organisations allows greater opportunity to reach and educate the whole community.

Strategic and operational relationships already exist amongst the partner organisations. The Leading Places programme strengthens this collaboration, leading to more sustainable governance though a more structured knowledge sharing process

Who are the partners?

London Borough of Lewisham and Goldsmiths, University of London are working in      partnership with: Phoenix Community Housing, Lewisham Homes, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and Lewisham Southwark College.

What challenge are you looking to address?

Lewisham is a great place to live with a strong and diverse community. Yet despite being situated in the heart of London, on the doorstep of one of the wealthiest cities in the world, tens of thousands of Lewisham residents live in poverty.

As the main employer in the borough and a significant source of investment in the local area, the public sector has a significant role to play in addressing the challenge of poverty. The project is aiming to bring the council and its strategic partners together to improve the livelihoods and future economic wellbeing of residents.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

The partnership is trying to get the anchor organisations in the borough to agree a ‘Lewisham Deal’. The Lewisham Deal will be an agreement which outlines joint commitments to improve opportunities for residents and support local economic growth throughout the borough. The Lewisham Deal will also include commitments that improve coordinated approaches to: delivering apprenticeships, undertaking procurement processes and pursuing the local economic development agenda.  

Why was this project chosen?

The partnership identified a project that would benefit from tapping into the framework for development and support that the Leading Places programme offers as well as being able to be part of a wider network to share good practice as well as the learning of others.

Who are the partners?

The University of Lincoln, South Kesteven District Council and Grantham College.

What challenge are you looking to address?

Lincolnshire has a relatively low higher education participation rate but at the same time there is a high prevalence of SMEs and pockets of rapid economic growth in the county, one of which is Grantham.

Because of accessibility issues, providing local access to higher education and academic support for businesses in Grantham is a challenge. A physical presence in the town centre provides a means to address this issue and also provides valuable space for new business to develop.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

The partnership are seeking to develop a physical university presence in Grantham that will provide a combination of teaching space for degree apprenticeships and short courses provision linked to the further education provision at the college focused on digital technology and engineering. This will be combined with accelerator space for new businesses and SME support. 
The partners also hope to use the development of this space as a platform to raise awareness and aspirations in the area. 

Why was this project chosen?

The project aligns with a major town centre renewal project being undertaken by South Kesteven District Council and combined with the projected housing growth in the area, Grantham was regarded as an ideal location.  There is a strong commitment to the partnership between the university, the college and the district council to using this project to promote education and new businesses.  It is anticipated that the creation of a physical university presence in Grantham town centre will aid the economic growth of the town.

Who are the partners?

Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council.

What challenge are you looking to address?

Development of an institutional commitment to, and understanding of, co-production of knowledge based on a belief that much of the knowledge required for cities innovation does not reside in the University or the local authorities but in communities, civic organisations and businesses.

The partnership are looking to explore the need to reconfigure both university and local government partners to be open to co-production that involves these non-academic and non-government actors.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

Development of a university-city ‘co-laboratory’ - a place that could physically connect both the city and the universities. This would be a place where the expertise, training, and skills that link university teaching, research and engagement could come together to offer citizens, businesses, the public sector and third sector enterprises opportunities for partnership working.

The primary desired outcome is therefore to develop a process, structure and governance by which the partners can embed research teams in the communities, agencies, and institutions in which they are trying to affect change.

Why was this project chosen?

There is a clear alignment between local government and university strategies with respect to cross-institutional working and commitment to developing models and practices of participatory citizenship.

Who are the partners?

Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham.

What challenge are you looking to address?

Nottingham’s ambition is to become the most smart-liveable city in the UK, utilising future technology to improve life for local citizens, business community and visitors.

The council and both universities in the city have developed a collaborative strategy to deliver this ambition, informed by engagement events that brought together academics and city policy leads, often for the first time.

The partnership is committed to implementing smart approaches to real-life issues that impact on local citizens such as congestion, air quality, fuel poverty, sustainable energy generation, and digital skills.

The challenge is now to translate this strategy in to action. The partnership has identified its priorities and through Leading Places will collaborate to secure resources and to implement applied-research projects.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

The partnership has identified the following outcomes:

  • To successfully implement Nottingham’s Smart-Liveable City strategy
  • To develop effective pathways that translate academic research into application for the benefit of local citizens
  • To demonstrate the value of university-council collaboration and embed this way of working across all three organisations
  • To further enhance the reputation of Nottingham as a Smart City and as a place that puts its citizens at the heart of everything it does.

Why was this project chosen?

The partners have a strong track record of working together and working together to implement the Smart-Liveable Nottingham strategy is a natural evolution of this partnership.  It was chosen because:

  • It offers scale through embedding collaboration at a whole-organisational level;
  • It demonstrates how universities and councils can provide place-based leadership;

Innovation that works for Nottingham can be applied around the world.

Who are the partners?

University of Sheffield, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust, Sheffield Hallam University and local authority partners.

What challenge are you looking to address?

In the last 5 years, Sheffield City Region (SCR) has experienced the first net jobs growth in a generation and 6,000 new start-ups have been generated. However, it is a post-industrial region that faces significant social and economic challenges.

During 2016, the two universities and the NHS Trust worked with the combined authority, LEP and other private, public and voluntary partners to explore how to build on the region's strengths and become a successful region where investment and growth produces prosperity and benefits shared by all. In February 2017 a prospectus was published, setting out a 25 year vision.

The Leading Places programme will help bring partners together across the region to deliver a business plan for ‘Care 2050’, a key health and wellbeing strand of the prospectus.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

For Care 2050 to be recognised within 5 years, nationally and internationally, as a leading health and wellness eco-system, connecting the right talent and technology to generate, deliver and validate useful and effective solutions for affordable and sustainable future healthcare.

More broadly, the partnership want to take the lessons from Care 2050 to establish a methodology on how to progress the SCR Vision more broadly.

Why was this project chosen?

The timing and focus of the Leading Places programme fitted with the partners’ objectives for Care 2050 and as an illustrator of how they might work more effectively across a broad spectrum of work to achieve the best outcomes for SCR.

Who are the partners?

Shropshire Council are working with the University Centre Shrewsbury, University of Chester and Shrewsbury College alongside Shropshire Partners in Care, Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Marches Care and the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).

What challenge is the partnership looking to address?

As a rural area, the challenges in meeting the health needs of a dispersed and aging population can increase demands on public services. By working together the Leading Places programmes will allow partners to look at how communities can use digital technologies to improve health and wellbeing and support each other whilst accessing health and social care through coordinated and digitally enabled services.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

The Leading Places programme will look to:

  • develop a common narrative across partners that accelerates knowledge transfer and adoption from other sectors in rural settings;
  • enable testing of digital solutions to neighbourhood care models;
  • attract future investment, interest and enterprise in population based digital products that can be accessible to private and public sector alike.

Why was this project chosen?

The local health and social care community are a key priority area for the developing higher education offer in Shrewsbury. It was recognised that the importance of both a digitally enabled population and digitally skilled workforce to serve the population of Shropshire required greater partnership working and Leading Places provides a vehicle to drive this forward.

Who are the partners?

Tees Valley Combined Authority (which includes Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton on Tees councils) and Teesside University. 

The project will also involve the Confederation of British Industry, the Department for International Trade, the Bank of England, Entrepreneurs Forum, the BE Group (a business support social enterprise), North Star Ventures (and equity support body), a leading high street bank and up to 50 businesses (in the first pilot).

What challenge are you looking to address?

The submission has been informed by the Tees Valley Strategic Economic Plan (2016), which aims: ‘to enhance productivity in those high growth firms and sectors which have the greatest potential to create jobs.’
There are two principal challenges related to delivery of the proposed Scalable Companies Programme:

  • Identifying companies who have high growth potential/scalability
  • Developing fit for purpose interventions which are capable of encouraging the nascent growth appetite amongst indigenous SMEs to become scalable companies.

What are the desired outcomes of the project?

Key outcomes sought by the project include:

  • The development of a process of identification and subsequent engagement with companies with the potential for scalability
  • Development of an agreed range of business support aimed at encouraging high growth
  • To increase the number of scale companies in Tees Valley from 100 to 200.

Why was this project chosen?

The project was chosen as not only does it demonstrate an opportunity for local authorities and the private and higher education sectors  to directly work together , but because it is of strategic importance to the Tees Valley economy. The project has the potential to double the number of high growth/scalable companies within the region and create in the region of 500+ high value jobs within 3 years of implementation.

 

For further information on Phase 2 of the Leading Places programme, please contact leading.places@local.gov.uk