Town Planning Review

Public participation: an approach using aerial photographs at Ashford, Kent

Town Planning Review (1994), 65, (1), 41


TPR, 65 (l) 1994 MARGARET ANDERSON, JULIA MEATON and CLIVE POTTER Public participation An approach using aerial photographs at Ashford, Kent This paper describes an innovative participation methodology which used aerial photographs, coloured stickers and a simple questionnaire to encourage local people to think about changes occurring around their town and consider its future development. The methodology was attractive to all ages, did not require respondents to have facility in writing or speaking, was challenging but enjoyable and was an educative experience for participants and researchers alike. Although developed as part of an academic research project studying change in the urban fringe of Ashford, Kent, the methodology has potentially wider applications in fields where the involvement of local people in the decisions that affect their lives and environment is increasing in importance. Local authorities in particular are being called upon to promote the sustainability objectives of Agenda 21 by developing consultation and consensus-building among citizens, organisations and businesses. This paper is a contribution to new thinking on ways of evolving and implementing genuinely cooperative participation. The participation methodology outlined in this paper was developed as part of a Wider project researching land use and landscape changes in the rural-urban fringes of expanding towns. It evolved as a result of the need of researchers at Wye College to find ways of eliciting from the general public spatial, visual and qualitative responses to their experiences of land-use change and their expectations for future landscapes around their town. At the start of its development the authors saw the methodology mainly as a tool for their own research, but they soon realised that it could have a wider application in public decision making, particularly within the town and country planning system. This belief was reinforced by the measure of success achieved in the implementation of the methodology and during analysis of the results. Subsequently, the importance attached to citizen consultation and consensus building by Agenda 21,1 one of the main documents to come from the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992,2 has reinforced the need for local authorities and others to develop imaginative and Interactive ways of involving local people in the decisions that affect their lives. 41 Copyright © 2010 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved. Copyright © Liverpool University Press.

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Author details

Anderson, Margaret

Meaton, Julia

Potter, Clive