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Shortlist - Sir Peter Hall Award for Wider Engagement

Peter Hall 2 (1)

 Gavin Parker - WINNER

Kat Salter - WINNER

Matthew Wargent - WINNER

Brendan Murtagh

(Shortlisted)

Teresa Strachan

(Shortlisted)

 

 

Winner - Gavin Parker,  Kat Salter and Matthew Wargent

(University of Reading – Real Estate & Planning, Henley Business School)

Main research output

Parker, G., Salter, K. and Wargent, M. (2019). Neighbourhood planning in practice. London: Lund Humphries Publishers, p.160.

See the full list of submitted outputs

Research details

Context

The book is a product of several years’ research and support in and for neighbourhood planning/ers and was written specifically to help communities to engage with community-led planning.

It represents the communication of the knowledge outcomes of the extensive research in neighbourhood planning (NP) and community involvement in planning led in the past five years by the Neighbourhood Planning academic research hub at Reading University.

The text was conceived as the main practice oriented product of the research endeavour along with wider associated dissemination efforts and a media platform designed to help foster wider engagement in planning in a new era of citizen planning. This centrally includes those citizens considering the development of a neighbourhood plan in England.

Research project

The submitted research represents an excellent example of academic research and scholarship being channelled and applied for a practice and community audience both via the book itself and a variety of other outputs and media (including the Neighbourhood planning website curated by Prof Parker). Their main contribution is to fuse academic critique and problematisation on neighbourhood planning with readily deployable advice and guidance to enable successful engagement for a user audience, i.e. putative neighbourhood planners and communities. Both the book and the website have been widely praised and these have helped inform communities considering or already active in neighbourhood planning.

Wider engagement

The book, overtly conceived for a lay/practice audience to encourage a more diverse and inclusive actualisation of community-led planning, is organised in such a way as to critically engage readers and is easy to digest so that readers are informed about planning generally about how to organise and navigate neighbourhood planning or other community planning tools. The book also provides several conceptual threads to aid users in following the implications of the advice offered at different stages involving a variety of inputs and resources and requiring key skills and dispositions. Prof Parker’s work represents a positive and ground-breaking response to ongoing exhortations for planning schools to engage and support communities and planning in a practice relevant manner.

Motivation

"The judges recognised the high impact of the research in engaging a wider audience, mobilising an impressive research output and communicating it in an innovative and clear way"

 

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Shortlisted - Brendan Murtagh and Andrew Grounds

(Queen's University Belfast – Planning School of Natural and Built Environment)

Main research output

Murtagh, B. and Grounds, A. (2019). Social economics regeneration and place making. Abingdon, Oxon, UK ; New York, NY, USA: Routledge.

See the full list of submitted outputs

Research details

Context

In 2016 the RTPI published ‘Poverty Place and Inequality’ which emphasised the importance of universities working with deprived communities but primarily focused on how services and facilities could better meet their needs in the context of uneven urban development. Significantly the review showed that the knowledge-intensive growth that has benefited many cities has had little impact on the poorest neighbourhoods with the weakest labour markets and lowest skills levels. Here a separate RTPI report on Planning Horizons 4 ‘Creating Economically Successful Places’ (2014 p.26) emphasised the importance of the ‘social economy’ in providing locally suitable jobs tailored services and better connectivity to opportunities in the urban economy. Informed by these ideas our planning group has since 2011 undertaken a programme of research on the social economy place and urban renewal with a range of projects funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (Community Asset Transfer CAT); Atlantic Philanthropies (social finance for community businesses); The Executive Office (policy development for poverty and social enterprises); and the NI Housing Executive (estate renewal and the social economy).

Research project

I. Our work on CAT stressed the importance of physical assets and community collateral in local regeneration strategies and resulted in a new partnership between the planning school at Queen’s and two large social enterprises (Ashton and Ledcom) in a three-year regeneration initiative in inner-north Belfast (2015/16-2018/19). Funded by the NI government we formed a new joint social enterprise called the Ethical Development Trust (EDT) which invested ¬£1.5m in asset-holding social enterprises in the area. The university led a mapping exercise that placed an emphasis on ‘assets’ co-design and building a programme of investment based on the priorities of a network of social enterprises. 

II. The “North Belfast Ethical Investment” working paper summarises one project on Clifton House and how our support has helped to develop their services sustainability and impact on the local economy. Building a convincing evidence base for the social economy is critical by drawing policy attention to its impact mobilising communities and bringing in bespoke finance to support its long-term development. The QUB research showed that EDT supported 22 social enterprises; created 51 jobs; placed 661 participants through accredited training; leveraged an additional ¬£3.1m investment from participating projects. Using multivariate statistics we also showed that every additional ¬£1.00 EDT provided increased end of term sales by ¬£0.50p and turnover by ¬£6.81 among the 22 community businesses. A significant component of the research is to bring in students on QUB RTPI recognised postgraduate planning programmes (in Planning and Development; Urban Regeneration; and Urban and Rural Design) to undertake dissertations defined by EDT. This included working with client organisations to undertake the project against a written brief and named contact together with a university tutor. A total of eight projects have been completed and several have won awards including the Best Dissertation (social enterprise assets) and the Santander Award (on regeneration and heritage).
III. We have been working with the NI government since the start of 2019 to improve the legislative basis for community asset transfer and with social finance providers to support new forms of ‘patient capital’ tailored to the needs of new-start community businesses.

Wider engagement

 I. The final year of the project (April 2018-March 2019) focused on dissemination policy impact and publicising practice as well as academic orientated materials. The university produced different types of research to address a range of community needs including market research into growth sectors; best practice examples in asset-led social economies; policy evaluations and recommendations; and monitoring data on the performance of the project. The QUB Research Assistant (Grounds) was embedded in the project in north Belfast and provided technical support to participating social enterprises on planning feasibility studies and economic appraisals. Emphasis was placed on working with participating social enterprises to draw out their needs barriers and implications for policy the regulatory environment and capacity building. This was brought together under a single portal that aimed to provide practitioners policy makers and communities with resources and strategic information to grow the social economy in planning urban regeneration housing and rural development policies. Supported by seminars podcasts and easy-to-use information sheets an emphasis was placed on dissemination and leveraging resources into the sector. 

II. These projects provided usable data for the social enterprise developed student-centred skills in problem solving with a ‘live’ client and built economic skills among a new group of professional planners. The funding also helped us to lead study visits to strong regional social economies in the Basque Country and Emilia Romagna in 2018/19 as well as previous visits to Bristol Dublin and Edinburgh. The lessons from these places stimulated thinking but also provided a strong evidence base to support the regulatory environment including legal changes (around asset transfer and social procurement) the social finance market and skills (including implications for the design of our own planning and regeneration modules).
III. The impact review of the project shows that the programme has had a significant impact on divided communities shared space and brings regeneration into the peacebuilding arena. We are currently working on the new EU PEACE Programme 2020-27 to help prioritise social enterprises in disadvantaged and divided communities but this we feel has wider relevance for race ethnicity and the spatialisation of poverty across the UK. The partnership has continued by the award of a KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) between Queen’s (Murtagh lead) and the Ashton Trust in January 2019. We will appoint the CX of the Ashton Trust as Visiting Professor in Urban Regeneration strengthened social economics (on community regeneration and place-making) on our taught programmes and have a new group of MSc dissertations working on a range of projects such as participatory budgeting; and the border social economy (linked to Brexit). Here we see engagement as a two-way process in which researchers have as much to benefit from practitioners as communities do from university research in thinking through a specific social economy dimension to place-making. This has culminated in a book by Murtagh on ‘Social Economics and the Solidarity City’ (2019) as part of the Routledge Planning and Urban Design Series.

Motivation

"The judges praised the relevance of the issues treated in this research,  grounded in a solid review of the relevant literature and is presented in an impactful and innovative way"

 

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Shortlisted - Teresa Strachan

(Newcastle University – School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape)

Main research output

Series of workshops: 'Canny Planners': An engagement workshop focussing on Hot Food Takeaway outlets on the High Street. (April 2018-April 2019)

Research details

Context

The topic of hot food takeaways and their impact on young people’s public health is a source of current debate at national and local level. Between April 2018 and April 2019 students and staff of Newcastle University’s School of Architecture Planning and Landscape have worked with 350 primary school children in North Tyneside where childhood obesity levels are above the national average. Three visits were made to a school in Wallsend a town where 43.3% of children in Year 6 are overweight or very overweight and life expectancy for men and women is considerably lower than for those in the less deprived areas of the Borough (North Tyneside Council 2015).

The workshop format is the result of 12 months’ of researching planning applications appeals Hot Food Supplementary Planning Documents in the north east and promoting the positive messages that are emerging around the role of planning in creating healthy environments. Planning student volunteers from across different cohorts have worked together to design elements of the workshop and to deliver these using questioning techniques with supporting information about planning.

Research project

The ‘Canny Planners’ workshop is a suite of 3 elements comprising: diamond picture ranking/ High Street board game/ mock planning committee which brings the issue of health and planning decisions into the classroom.

The diamond ranking activity allows the young people to understand that we make judgements on what we want for our neighbourhoods through the different values and priorities that we hold. This introduces the concept of the need for planning to arbitrate that range of views. Through the High Street board game young people can explore their perception of the high street reflecting on the impact of takeaways and other activities such as shops and going to the park. This introduces the concept that planning relates to a number of everyday scenarios and activities highlighting their key ‘tipping points’ beyond which the community can be adversely affected. The workshop also helped to bring some of the key facts about takeaway food (and its calorie and fat content) lifestyle choices and the role of the planning process in an informative fun and thought - provoking manner.

Working with young people on this issue has reinforced the researchers’ belief that planning policy around takeaways and high street retail offers has the potential for strong community ‘buy in’ (both in health and environmental terms). Children of primary school age make decisions about the type of food they eat which suggests that planning authorities which have not yet addressed the impact of such outlets on neighbouring primary schools may well need to consider revising their approach. University ethics approval was sought to allow research outputs to be gathered from these engagement workshops the findings of which are now beginning to be shared with practitioners in academic papers seminars and planning conferences.

Wider engagement

The wider impact of these workshops is that young people can begin to regard themselves less as being on the ‘receiving end’ of decisions that are made for them; that they can make their own informed lifestyle choices and in turn can help to inform the decisions of their families. The young people are also learning that there are longer-term benefits of pursuing a healthy choice of lifestyle.

The good practice that the workshops have demanded raise possibilities for new benchmarks in how we work with community groups in terms of inclusive methodologies and longer term engagement. The activities (especially the High Street Game) have been designed by the students to promote learning through the ‘threshold concept’ (Land R. et al 2016) which allows participants to unlock their learning and to understand planning decisions in a transformative manner. The project has secured funds from the Planning School’s Global and Urban Research Unit (GURU) to produce sets of resources so that schools and other groups can run their own workshops in the future. As the University looks to develop its Urban Room (Farrell 2014) the workshop will offer a useful format for wider community engagement.

The workshops outputs have the potential to inform future policy. The evidence emerging so far demonstrates that young people are very clearly influenced in their eating habits by the hot food takeaway industry and by what is available close to their schools.

‘Canny Planners’ has enabled planning to reach the curriculum in many North Tyneside primary schools with the promise of the project reaching even further in the future. It has demonstrated that the discipline is inclusive caring and capable of sharing a sense of responsibility for the local community’s health the planned environment and the relationship between the two. It has raised young people’s interest in what having a point of view can achieve and how they can communicate with the local planning authority’s decision making process through their persuasive writing. On a wider community scale the workshop has the potential to promote community interest in developing a locally based hot food takeaway evidence base or strategy as part of a Neighbourhood or Local Plan. The workshop showcases the work of our planning students and their passion for their subject in turn raising the profile of the profession and the responsibilities that the discipline advocates. Students talk about their new skills in engagement and the advantages that this will give them in the future work force. The students are also keenly aware that engagement with young people is not difficult yields important results and can be extremely rewarding. Through the Gatsby Benchmarking strategy (Gatsby Foundation 2013) the workshop has the potential to be recognised for how it raises young people’s awareness of higher education opportunities and routes into the planning profession.

Motivation

"The judges recognised the impact of the research and the innovative approach to public engagement"

 

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