We think the following ideas from a Yorkshire-based Lib Dem are pretty good. The chap made a speech today, and a lot of what he said is very relevant for our own area:
“Shared space is vital in fostering the bonds that create happy communities.
“But when there?s no clear ownership, the danger is that these spaces become dominated by anti-social behaviour. And people retreat into their private space instead.
“Public spaces that are open to all – like parks and shopping areas – need careful design.
“Our focus should not just be on grand public spaces with beautiful public art – valuable though they can be.
“It?s because our physical experience of the world is so shaped by the built environment that people get so passionate about new development, even if that passion is often directed to opposing the granting of planning permission.
“But consultation exercises are not enough. Especially if they are ignored.
“There is nothing more destructive to people?s faith in politics than to have their views sought, and then overruled. That?s why I?m so excited about the development of participatory planning.
“Not just coming up with an idea and asking communities if they like it. But actually engaging them at an early stage in developing the whole concept of what is to be built, and how it will work.
“People have lost faith that they can influence the world around them. Giving them the tools not only to influence but to shape the physical space around them is the perfect antidote to this loss of power.
“Participatory planning shouldn?t be a special process, rolled out for flagship developments alone. It should be part and parcel of the basic structure of our planning system.”
The speaker is actually Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg (a Sheffield MP) More details on Nick speech here.