The role of local communities in regeneration

5 July 2002 | blog, comment, neighbourhood, working with communities

Gretna Masterplan Workshop
The role of local communities in regeneration is crucial to long term sustainability. If local people are involved in the preparation of plans they are likely to feel a greater sense of ownership in the eventual outcome. The status and practice of community involvement has changed markedly over the last five years so that what used to be innovative and unusual is now often a mandatory component of projects. Proper consultation and public involvement is obviously constructive and can lead to fine-grained and tailored solutions but to be truly effective, the design of the involvement process requires a detailed consideration of what has already happened, how the exercise can avoid repeating previous processes, and what can realistically be delivered.

Designers are often guilty of letting one idea or concept run the design process sometimes to the exclusion of common sense, practicality or community needs and requirements. The dictates of fashion or the need to appeal to peer groups rather than users can skew the eventual design outcome so that while it may have superficial visual appeal, it is not rooted in the needs and aspirations of the community. Communities should be involved in the design process from the outset rather than brought in at a later point. We work with Drew Mackie Associates and employ a wide range of techniques to bring about effective involvement in working with communities.