Creative Participation in Planning and Housing

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Cardiff Law School

Abstract

This project explored how three 'pioneer communities' in Newcastle, Cumbria and Bristol use creativity to involve themselves in place-making and planning practices after initial struggles to have a voice in the process. The key empirical findings from the project illustrate divergent approaches to creativity in place-making with each having some success. Sites in Newcastle, Cumbria and Bristol have been creatively transformed to reflect the needs and interests of older and younger people and to 'beautify' the environment in Stokes Croft.

As anticipated, the project revealed some difficulties in defining who 'the' community is, what creativity is and in whose name such creativity is practised, particularly when action is more individualised. However, the project tentatively suggested that creativity might be greater when groups are less representative and when decision-makers and funders are less involved. In particular, it raised the possibility that when community participants go from being 'outsiders' to 'insiders' and no longer have to struggle so much to be heard they engage in fewer creative practices. In Newcastle, however, where this happened the Elders still used their creativity to attract new members to the forum.

This project found that when understood through the experiences of community participants that place-making is broader and more material than planning practices as conventionally conceived. In terms of the localism agenda this suggests that participation should be broadly understood, facilitating input on the 'felt environment' as much as the built environment. Future research should be focused on how neighbourhood creativity and representation can be interrelated and how participation in these broader conceptions of place-making can be facilitated at the local level.
 
Description This project explored how three 'pioneer communities' in Newcastle, Cumbria and Bristol use creativity to involve themselves in place-making and planning practices after initial struggles to have a voice in the process. The key empirical findings from the project illustrate divergent approaches to creativity in place-making with each having some success. Sites in Newcastle, Cumbria and Bristol have been creatively transformed to reflect the needs and interests of older and younger people and to 'beautify' the environment in Stokes Croft.

As anticipated, the project revealed some difficulties in defining who 'the' community is, what creativity is and in whose name such creativity is practised, particularly when action is more individualised. However, the project tentatively suggested that creativity might be greater when groups are less representative and when decision-makers and funders are less involved. In particular, it raised the possibility that when community participants go from being 'outsiders' to 'insiders' and no longer have to struggle so much to be heard they engage in fewer creative practices. In Newcastle, however, where this happened the Elders still used their creativity to attract new members to the forum.

This project found that when understood through the experiences of community participants that place-making is broader and more material than planning practices as conventionally conceived. In terms of the localism agenda this suggests that participation should be broadly understood, facilitating input on the 'felt environment' as much as the built environment. Future research should be focused on how neighbourhood creativity and representation can be interrelated and how participation in these broader conceptions of place-making can be facilitated at the local level.
Exploitation Route The ways in which community groups participate creatively is dependent in part of their legal consciousness as the primary publication associated with this award illustrates.

A film created by and for the Elders Council of Newcastle Upon Tyne, who participated in this project, is available here:
https://vimeo.com/35532927
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://creativeparticipation.com
 
Description These findings underpinned a bid for an ESRC Seminar Series drawing together AHRC Connected Communities academics with ESRC-funded academics as well as the Department of Communities and Local Government. This seminar series (ES/M00239X/1) was very much inspired by the use of creative methods within communities to make political points (particularly in the third seminar in Sheffield) and is influencing broader collaboration between academics and DCLG. The Policy recommendations from this project can be seen at: creativeparticipation.com/policy-recommendations
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services