Guide to Localism Opportunities for architects: Part two: Getting community engagement right
Localism is the driving principle underpinning the Government’s
changes to the policy framework for planning, housing, regeneration and economic growth. The proposals involve a radical devolution of responsibilities to the local level, giving new powers and opportunities to councils and communities to plan and design their places. The aim is to drive change at a local level and empower communities with new rights to have more say in the development process.
This new approach to planning – to managing change in local communities – has profound implications for the working practices of all built environment professionals.
Localism requires a shift to partnership approaches with local people, requiring new skills in building effective dialogue and developing a shared understanding of places, their challenges and their potential.
Architects have exceptional opportunities to use their skills within
this new context. They can emerge as integral design enablers
and facilitators of localised plan-making, helping communities
and local authorities to maximise the potential of their places.
Many practitioners are already doing substantial work in this area;
others are actively seeking to develop new skills and capacities
in response to the emerging policy proposals.
The aim of this guide, part two of the RIBA’s Guide to Localism, is
to consider the role architects can play in community engagement
by applying their skills creatively. The principles of successful and
meaningful community participation within the design process
will be introduced and then illustrated through case studies.
Localism needs design professionals to succeed, but the quality
of the places created by this new process will be dependent on
their ability to appropriately engage with local people and local issues, right from the beginning, designing ‘with’ rather than ‘for’ communities.
The format of this document is intended to guide architects in