ResPublica Green Paper in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects
The recent Localism Act provides unprecedented potential to mobilise local resources and open up new pathways for community engagement in community led planning.
The latest ResPublica 'Green Paper', written in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), argues that involving communities in planning on a collaborative, rather than purely consultative basis will not only lead to more successful developments, it can also generate social capital and value: stronger and more cohesive communities. The publication recommends that:
- The benefits of good design and meaningful community engagement should be recognised as a measurable social outcome
- Government should appoint an independent panel of experts to define the metrics and structures required to capture the social value created though the neighbourhood planning process.
- An evidence base from Local Authorities should be used by the Government in order to extend the 'community budgets' programme and to create a new ‘Total Neighbourhood’ approach.
- The Government should make a ‘Neighbourhood Partnership Agreement’ between residents, local business, local authorities, developers, and design professionals a statutory requirement for every Neighbourhood Plan.
In short, by designing with, rather than for, communities, neighbourhood planning can lead to more appropriate and successful local planning and help create better places. But this kind of collaboration within the planning process – if done in a comprehensive and meaningful way – can also help create stronger, more cohesive communities, generating social capital through an improved sense of collective agency. Therefore, neighbourhood planning has a potential to become a platform for more robust forms of radical localism. It could also be a catalyst for a radically new way of thinking about the relationship between community empowerment and community engagement in planning and design.