TPR, 65 (l) 1994
MARGARET ANDERSON, JULIA MEATON and CLIVE POTTER
An approach using aerial photographs at
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
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.
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