DELVE helps you identify effective localised solutions to create vibrant sustainable places where people prosper.

DELVE brings stakeholders together around a range of tailored creative and analytical techniques to build a rich understanding of urban and rural residential and commercial contexts.

Adding tried and tested processes from the creative sector to formal spatial analysis, neighbourhood planning and tactical urbanism methodologies, DELVE moves beyond community consultation to quantify assets, reveal attitudes, expose behaviours, express aspirations and uncover potential.

DELVE then identifies ideas, strategies, actions and undertakes programmes over the short and long term to formulate new approaches to city living.

DELVE was created in direct response to the challenges place-makers face in developing liveable environments that deliver for both diverse community needs and local authority imperatives in relation to economy, environment and well-being.  To bring together complementary skills and knowledge with international experience and connections, DELVE was founded by Sarah Spanton and Richard Sobey, who have both been working in leadership and strategic roles in the cultural and urban planning sectors for many years. DELVE works with those engaged in all aspects of place-making: commercial and public urban planning practices, architects, socially engaged charities and organisations, community groups, action researchers and activists.

At the heart of the practice is the belief that people feel prosperity in a variety of ways. They need to feel prosperity beyond simple economic measures. At a time when place-makers are expected to deliver sustainable results in increasingly more complex and demanding environments, DELVE brings rigorous analytics and creative solutions to make connections across those sectors shaping healthy ever-evolving communities.

DELVE is committed to facilitating evolution in partnership with socially responsible clients and knowledgeable diverse communities. It recognises the power of harnessing local knowledge in tandem with professional approaches in the discovery of impactful, relevant and celebrated place-making action.

DELVE works with you and your constituency to create prosperous places for people and business.






Richard Sobey – www.richardsobey.com

Richard brings many years’ experience of working in partnership with stakeholders across the cultural, heritage, urban planning and land management sectors.

He collaborates with architects, urban planners, local businesses and communities, social entrepreneurs, artists, technologists and serious games developers to develop and implement impactful programmes and strategies that create vibrant, sustainable and healthy places where individuals, communities and local business thrive.

With often small or tactical interventions and temporary changes to the managed environment, urban and rural, Richard works to shift our understandings and expectations about what we can do and what we can affect in local neighbourhoods and gathering places.

Richard is interested in how people understand and provide meaning for specific spaces; how this evolves with artistic and socially engaged interventions; and how local people can lead or contribute to these interventions. He is also excited by the shifts in the sense of ownership that people can have when they are invested in a place. He believes that social, economic, political and cultural practice can drive this investment to create prosperous communities. His approach as a creative consultant draws on social engaged artistic practice, urban development and tactical place-making and how these concepts relate to place, ownership and prosperity today.

Richard’s clients include:

Buxton Crescent Heritage Project, 2014. Creative strategy development (with property developers and HLF) – vision, shaping of proposition (Pump Room, Crescent rooms, Buxton Town and Programme), outlining of activities and action plan, budgeting cultural delivery)

Global Arts Impact Agenda, (France/Switzerland) 2014 – continuing. International strategic initiatives to develop programmes for localised delivery against United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals 2015 focusing on ‘sustainable cities and healthy communities’ and ‘peace and justice’

Chengdu City Destination Marketing Department (China), 2012. Programme Director UK of the T10:  creating international destination cities conference in Chengdu.  He defined the conference programme and design with Chinese officials

Oxford Contemporary Music, 2011. Produced international live-link sound and composition education project with schools in Oxford and Beijing

One Plus One Disabled Persons’ Cultural Development Center (China), 2009. Leading the development of 5 year strategic development plan on creative and social ambitions and structural issues

British Council, Beijing (China), 2009. Creative Director of Transforming Public Spaces conference in Chongqing, defined conference programme, designed practical workshop activity, managing conference delivery with BC staff and chairing main stage debates

NESTA – National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, 2008-2010. Lead Mentor for Dream Time Awardee, defining ambition, goals, action plan and IP exploitation opportunities

BEAM: Arts, People, Places, 1998. Facilitating National Architects and Town Planners’ Summer School alongside Sarah Wrigglesworth and Will Alsop and artist David Mach

Sarah Spantonwww.waymarking.org.uk

As an arts consultant and artist/performer, recently trained as an urban planner (MSc Urban Regeneration and Development at University of Manchester, 2015) Sarah’s interests are focused on holistic tactics around social, economic and environmental resilience, in communities, neighbourhoods and for individuals. She works on research, active modelling, sharing opportunities and embedding ideas and approaches with both professionals and community groups to explore how people living in urban settings can find ways to live fulfilling lives together, now and in the future.

Sarah is highly experienced with over 25 years devising and developing programmes, programme management, community engagement, facilitation, research, training, professional development, evaluation and report-writing.

She has a keen interest in bringing groups together to work to communicate more effectively with each other and to enable the finding of synergies and potentials between each other. Her approach is innovative, inventive, rigorous, engaging, about problem solving, clearly and accessibly communicated and all undertaken through refreshing creative means.

Her technical skills include choropleth map-making, GIS, spatial analysis of policy and data, urban design mapping and assessment, neighbourhood planning, economic, planning and regeneration policy analysis and participatory asset mapping. Recent academic research examined the social economy in Birmingham and its role in local economic development, regeneration and place-making.

Sarah’s clients and commissions include:

Blaize, 2016. Evaluating the cultural and social impact of a large-scale touring dance programme across the North of England

Yorkshire Dance, 2015/6. External evaluator of Amplified professional development and venue development programme

Northern School of Contemporary Dance, 2014. Strategic development and network creation with 10 key cultural organisations across the North of England

Parteon and city of Zaandam (The Netherlands), 2013. Collaboration with urban designer Ellen Holleman (Islant), practice-based research on an asset focussed approach to community development, entitled Value in the Neighbourhood

East Street Arts, 2011. Devised and produced mini contemporary opera video project, on socialising in public space, with communities in Chapeltown area of Leeds

Stroom, Den Haag (The Netherlands), 2011. Training arts practitioners around creative timebanking, exploring alternative economic models

Space2, 2009. Director of Expressions Festival, a young people and community development programme in East Leeds

Arts Council of England, 2004-2013. Arts infrastructure development for ACE, Yorkshire







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