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Title: Learning about communities in a participatory spatial planning context : a study of community engagement & planning knowledge in England
Author: Natarajan, L. C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 4911
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This piece of research was motivated by professional experiences of engaging communities in planning and a perceived conceptual gap in understandings of that field. Issues of power and communication have been well examined but the associated production of knowledge is underexplored. Theories of community engagement tend to focus on issues of ‘voice’ and the means to achieving deeper democracy. Similarly, participatory planning theories frame the debate in terms of communicative processes or competing rationalities. Within that body of work, knowledge is mainly seen as an adjunct of power and there is little focus on knowledge itself. In particular there has not as yet been a thorough study of how understandings of space are produced in a spatial planning context which includes lay participants. This thesis attempts to broach that gap and asks the questions 1) ‘Is community engagement a social learning arena for spatial planning?’ and 2) ‘What is the dynamic between different types of knowledge around spatial planning where there is lay participation?’ The research is based on two years of embedded observation within a joint planning unit and examines the review of the North Northamptonshire Core Strategy of 2008, which culminated in substantial community engagement work early in 2011. Findings from that case study were tested through a series of workshops involving a wider community of planners from across England. Research findings indicate that local knowledge has a particular nature and spatiality. They also demonstrate the dynamics of lay knowledge and planning knowledge, in the context of spatial strategy-making. It is hoped that these findings can help in understanding the production of planning knowledge and inform current efforts to bring communities closer to policy makers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available