I’ve finally got round to reading last week’s Building magazine and, for me, the most interesting article (We did it our way) concerned an “intensive collaborative planning exercise that brings people together and asks them to come up with a development plan for an area” – also known as a charrette. Apparently, the charrette process, typically lasting at least four days, was pioneered in the US 20 years ago and is being increasingly used in the UK, to develop genuinely sustainable developments that combine social, economic and environmental requirements.
The zone studied for this particular charrette was a series of sites either side of Deptford Creek in south-east London – an area that I know well as a local resident. Having recently observed another planning project, BuildLondonLive, focused on a Thames-side site just over a mile away (see posts here and here), it struck me that the two types of event could very usefully be combined, particularly if people who were unable to physically attend the charrette sessions could participate online, using a variety of traditional online and web 2.0-type tools. This would overcome the offline nature of the charrette, and provide community/stakeholder inputs to the professional design process, instead of these activities being silo-ed.
Involvement could also be stimulated by utilising some of the existing online networking services such as planningalerts.com and other mysociety.org initiatives, ResidentsHQ (recently discussed in the Building forums), local bloggers, etc. Ongoing involvement might include use of blogs, Twitter, RSS, online collaboration platforms, consultation tools (eg: Consense, who I met at Think 08), discussion forums, wikis and the like.
Other related site: www.creeksidecharrette.org