As part of our collaborative project with Glasgow University, we publish a report on the MSc dissertation by student Symone Jackson. The study explores how easily our current economic system, that favours the market and emphasises the importance of economic growth can sit beside Government aims of community empowerment.
Recommendations of the study are
- Communities need to be supported better. The establishment of a communication portal (a social media like platform) for members of the local community to offer support and share ideas could demonstrate to others how to contend with a specific issue or advise others how to establish their own community council. Something as simple as communication could encourage other people to become involved in the planning system and would provide empowerment from the grass-root level.
- Community Empowerment needs to be more inclusive. Members of the public or local authorities could provide information or experience of the planning system and what has been achieved through pamphlets, visitors or community events in accessible places. This may encourage others whom would not primarily think of becoming involved in the system to develop their agency if other successful examples of community empowerment are conveyed.
- The planning system needs to be understood better. From the research, there is little suggestion that community empowerment is encouraged or publicised to a great extent. Communities need to feel empowered through knowledge; the first step in this would be to inform communities of their place and potential influence within the planning system and their local space. The planning system is extremely complex so communities will be able to better understand their placement within the system and could be more likely to participate with greater education. This breaks down the barrier between the ‘expert’ and the ‘novice’ and could erase the idea that planning is intimidating which would encourage better community empowerment.