Historic England, CIHT, Newcastle City Council & Newcastle Helix Keynotes at PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2024


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PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2024 takes place on Wednesday 10th July at The Catalyst, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Have you registered for your complimentary delegate place?

We’re delighted to confirm further details on our senior keynote speakers and the presentations they’ll be delivering on behalf of Historic England, The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), Newcastle City Council and Newcastle Helix!


“Reviving High Streets: Historic England’s Approach to Place-Shaping” – Historic England has been working with partners for over 40 years on schemes that repair and enhance historic places across England. It was because of this experience that, 4 years ago, it launched its ground-breaking High Street Heritage Action Zones programme. That programme, which formally ended in April of this year, saw £95m invested into 67 English high streets.

This keynote from Owain Lloyd-James, Historic England’s Head of Local Government and Communities, will outline the results of this investment, both in terms of the impact on places, and the impact on people.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, and Owain’s presentation will touch on the lessons learnt and the influence it has had on how Historic England will continue to work with local partners to deliver sustainable heritage-led regeneration.


“Creating a Public Realm for All” – The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) represents and qualifies professionals who plan, design, build, manage, maintain, and operate highways, transport infrastructure, and services.

In this keynote presentation, CIHT Director of Policy and Technical Affairs, Antoneta Horbury, will highlight the key points from the CIHT’s recently published report on “Creating a Public Realm for All”. This report will be freely available from www.ciht.org.uk/publicrealm from 9th July 2024.

The presentation will cover:

  • The importance of proper engagement with those who could potentially use a scheme
  • Reducing barriers in the design stage
  • Difficult decisions which need to be made and how best to make them
  • Reducing barriers after implementation, including the importance of maintenance and reinstatement


“Newcastle Helix: An Innovation District Founded on Smart Tech and Delivered through Smart Long Term Partnerships” – The innovation economy has been one of the defining features of the last economic cycle. How places can draw on their assets, ecosystem or expertise to make a new location for innovation work, discovery and job creation has rapidly become a worldwide preoccupation for cities, local governments, regions and nations.

Around the world there are now more than 500 places – be they districts, neighbourhoods, corridors, or clusters of buildings – that have been recognised or designated as hubs of innovation within their region. More than 80% of these are in cities and metropolitan areas – these places accommodate a growing portion of an innovation economy that has been re- urbanising in recent decades. What nearly all of them share is an objective to optimise how they are physically configured and orchestrated in order to achieve economic and social outcomes for their community, their city or their region.

Newcastle Helix was originally conceived as a “science city”. A partnership between Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University and Legal and General, It has become more recently defined as a centre for Data, Ageing and Life Sciences with a vision to help people live better lives. Today it is home to 3 National Innovation Centres, The National Green Infrastructure Facility, The Urban Observatory, 4 commercial buildings and a District Energy Centre. The smart tech that is in use makes Helix and the wider city, one of the most measured and analysed locations in the UK.

The Catalyst: The award-winning building plays host to this year’s event and is located within the Helix development, just a 9-minute walk from Newcastle Central Station 

The region’s huge achievements in technological and industrial development make it a prime case study of a modern industrial city. Its great distance from the capital makes it a prime case study of a provincial city. But how can we ensure that all of this data and research is put to the right use? How can it have a direct impact on public sector decision and policy making? On investment decisions within the private sector? And how does the Helix Partnership continue to ensure that the right onward investment and long term vision continues to be shared to deliver what it set out to achieve?

Michelle Percy is Director of Investment and Growth at Newcastle City Council, she has been an integral part of the Helix Partnership over the past decade. John Seager is Estates Director at Newcastle Helix, he has worked for the past 2 decades in senior leadership roles on behalf of public private partnerships, helping ensure that investment aspirations, developments and property portfolios achieve their financial and social potential. Together, they will provide in this co-presented keynote a comprehensive journey through the evolution of Newcastle Helix, the integration and use of the smart tech that provides the foundations for the Innovation District, the practicalities of managing and using that tech to assist with partnership decision making and the value that brings to achieving the partnership’s long term goals.

Our 2023 edition in Manchester featured keynote presentations from Kath Wynne-Hague (above), Head of Culture, Place and City Centre at Hull City Council, Colin Sinclair, CEO of Knowledge Quarter Liverpool & Sciontec Developments, and Alex King-Byatt, Managing Director of CityCo & Manchester City Centre BID  

PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2024 will show key stakeholders how to harness innovation, data science, design, policy and best practice to create the next generation of smarter spaces and places in our cities and regions.

In addition to our inspirational keynotes, the event will also feature:

  • Rapid fire innovator presentations by technology experts and thought leaders from Project Centre – Part of Marston Holdings (“Designing Healthy Places: Creating Vibrant, Healthy, People Focussed Public Realm”), Brightly – A Siemens Smart Infrastructure Company (“Bright and Connected Public Spaces”), Slingshot Simulations (“Place-Based Decision Intelligence – Practical Urban Spaces Case Studies with Sunderland, West Yorkshire and beyond”) and Sustrans (“How Data and Community Engagement can Affect Change”). Check out our agenda on the event website for speaker profiles and presentation overviews.
  • Q&As after every keynote and innovator presentation.
  • Deeper-dive roundtable consultations with speakers and specialists to help hone delegates’ smart strategies and address some of their specific challenges.
  • Further networking opportunities with peers and pioneers over breakfast, drinks and a cooked lunch, and all at no charge!

Attendance is free of charge to those with relevant credentials, but with the majority of seats now allocated you’ll need to register soon to secure one of the remaining delegate places at this in person only event!

Qualifying delegates include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, planners, place makers, architects, green space managers, urban designers, communities & neighbourhoods, highways & street scene, transport & mobility and high streets & regeneration professionals from UK councils and local authorities (city, borough, metropolitan, district, county and combined); people and place partnerships; developers, landowners and creators of privately owned public spaces; prime contractors and city centre management companies; DfT, DEFRA, MHCLG, EA and supporting governmental bodies; transport authorities, highways agencies and public transport operators; civic organisations and community groups; and other key players from the public realm ecosystem with responsibility for managing, maintaining and operating our streets, squares, forecourts, parks, pathways, retail centres, car parks, airports, ports, travel hubs, hospitals, housing estates, campuses, communal gardens and the assets contained within these public or semi-public spaces.

REGISTER HERE if you’d like to join us for what promises to be an insightful half-day (8.30am-2.00pm) of collaboration and knowledge exchange!

If you’re already committed on July 10th, you’re welcome to extend this opportunity to an appropriate colleague, team member or counterpart.


Innovators! Like to book an innovation sponsorship slot at PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2024 or one of our other Smart Class events?

A limited number of solution vendors can participate at a Smart Class in an “Innovation Sponsor” capacity, and this opportunity is also available to innovative consultancies!

Check out our Event Sponsorship page for full details on “Smart Class Innovation Sponsorship Packages” or contact us by phone or e-mail if you’d like to discuss this option further with a member of our team.

Peruse our Testimonials page, the Smart Class event pages on our website and “Retrospective Round-ups” published on the Smart Classes Knowledge Base for feedback from previous delegates, sponsors and supporters! Browse individual Smart Classes from our Events Schedule & Archive.


Feature Image Source: jcomp on Freepik

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PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Classes show key buyer side stakeholders how to harness innovation, data science, design, policies and best practice to create the next generation of smarter spaces and places in our cities and regions. PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2024 will be hosted in Newcastle on July 10th.


   Newcastle, UK

Sponsored by
Brightly Software
Project Centre
Slingshot Simulations

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