Providing an evidence base for a regional park strategy


Digital Placemaking

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Photo: Ammarah Kabir


The National Trust commissioned Calvium to undertake research that revealed how digital placemaking and inclusive community engagement could be incorporated into its strategy for 8 Hills Regional Park: a proposed area of approx. 47 square miles situated in the Midlands.

The regional park concept is about establishing a robust plan for the landscape that boosts nature, recreation, active travel and sustainable farming, whilst accommodating potential housing growth. 

Calvium’s report and recommendations were well received and will be used to inform the National Trust’s approach to undertaking meaningful community engagement and enabling great visitor experiences for this pioneering project.

About 8 Hills Regional Park

The project aims to:                                                                                                                                                                                                               .

  • Improve access to the countryside for local communities so as to improve people’s health and wellbeing
  • Protect and enhance the landscape, improving wildlife corridors and heritage features
  • Create additional income opportunities for farmers to help make farming more sustainable.

The proposal is supported by a variety of partners and stakeholders across public, private and third sector organisations, who have fed into the feasibility study and vision.

It's vital for this ambitious project to embrace the varied opportunities that digital technologies present at the very start of the process.

Matt Doran, Head of Innovation and Partnerships, National Trust

Four standing stones with view over the lower hills, erected by an estate owner.
The Four Stones on top of Clent Hill. Photo: Pianoplonkers

About Calvium's digital placemaking research

Increasingly, digital technologies play a significant role in the ways that places are experienced and managed. For instance, location-based digital technologies such as Google Maps allow us to navigate through a location, iNaturalist enables us to survey local flora and fauna, and Pokemon GO gets us playing in our local streets and parks. All of these digital placemaking products connect people to places in meaningful ways. Therefore, in order to maximise the visitor experience of the 8 Hills Regional Park it was important to understand the opportunities that digital placemaking affords, and explore ways in which inclusive community engagement could inform the design of future digital projects. 

To achieve this, Calvium addressed four subjects: inclusive community engagement; enhanced visitor engagement; innovative digital placemaking, and novel ‘payment-by-results’ scenarios for farmers and landowners.

Inclusive community engagement                                                                                                                                                                       .

  • explored ways in which inclusive community engagement could inform the design of digital projects for the Regional Park and suggests practical approaches and methods for doing so. 

Enhanced visitor engagement                                                                                                                                                                                 .

  • presented best practice examples of creative digital placemaking from around the world. It used a bespoke digital placemaking framework to categorise the selected projects, illustrating five different types of connection with green spaces.

Innovative digital placemaking                                                                                                                                                                          .

  • expanded the ways in which people are framed in relation to their spatial practices and engagement with the Park and provided innovative digital placemaking examples for each category of engagement – all were selected to stimulate novel ideas for future visitors to build their relationships with 8 Hills Regional Park.

‘Payment-by-results’ scenarios for landowners                                                                                                                                            .

  • offered seven different visitor experiences that reward landowners for the amount of people who access their land; describing the project scenarios followed by the corresponding technical considerations for each. The set of projects range from technically complex systems to simple ‘off-the shelf’ digital products.
I was impressed by the quality of the insights and recommendations in Calvium's report, which provided much inspiration and food for thought. Their work will play a valuable part in shaping the strategy for 8 Hills.

Matt Doran, Head of Innovation and Partnerships, National Trust

Image of report cover with photo of Clent Hills at sunset as a background

Next steps

The National Trust team is busy progressing all aspects of this vital and multi-faceted project. Inclusive community engagement and digital placemaking are at the heart of the proposed 8 Hills Regional Park, which will greatly support the project’s mission to enhance the health and wellbeing of local communities, protect and enhance the landscape, and create new income streams for farmers and landowners. 

Calvium is motivated by pursuing digital innovation for people, place and planet, and we are delighted to be part of the 8 Hills Regional Park story.


Contact Calvium now, to support your local place strategies and operational plans.

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