Lennert Werner, Pascal Beckers, Eva Jongsma
ESSAY SERIES TRANSITIONS IN PLANNING
– CHALLENGES OF THE 21TH CENTURY FOR DUTCH SPATIAL PLANNING
Involving Local Residents in Decision-Making Processes: Urban regeneration in multi- cultural neighbourhoods
>> Participatory spatial planning approaches aimed to empower local communities in multicultural neighbourhoods tend to fall short due to their cultural blindness. Thinking along the lines of Hall and Hickman's (2011) theory on citizen participation, migrant participation in neighbourhood spatial planning decisions remains notably at best reaching the consultation level, but being far off from actually achieving citizen empowerment. These approaches fall short as they lack to capitalize on the locally present assets of the migrant community (capacities of inhabitants, such as knowledge and skills). Instead, most government initiatives focus on a particular service question, a particular 'need' to be able to meet a specific 'demand'. With this needs-based approach to community development, the community actually tends to become dependent on government institutions, rather than gaining empowerment from within.
A promising alternative towards community empowerment is the asset-based approach to community development, which fosters self-sufficiency of the community.
This essay discusses local resident participation in the context of the redevelopment process of a multicultural urban neighbourhood, highlighting the relevance of intercultural literacy and community empowerment. The highly culturally-diverse setting in urban neighbourhoods of large cities brings the chance of intercultural misunderstandings, which is why an intense and ongoing dialogue between local stakeholders is essential to achieve community empowerment and participation. This essay also reflects on the intercultural planning perspective (e.g. Qadeer 1997), applied to a specific neighbourhood in the Bijlmer, Amsterdam, called G-buurt Noord. Through interviews with local stakeholders, varying from residents to government officials and other relevant actors, an encompassing picture of the actual situation in this neighbourhood emerges. The accompanying central research question is: How can intercultural planning contribute to equity-based, participatory urban planning approaches that enable community empowerment in the Bijlmer, Amsterdam?
Key words: resident participation, community building, empowerment, urban redevelopment, decision-making processes, planning policy, multicultural neighbourhoods, cultural diversity, globalization, cities
About the authors
Lennert Werner, PhD Candidate at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Currently he is developing a project proposal for a PhD on resident participation among migrants in urban planning.
Pascal Beckers, Associate Professor in Human Geography and Planning at the Radboud University, with special expertise in Migration and Integration Studies, Employment and Housing, and Urban Studies. Director of Research and Valorization at Radboud University Network on Migrant Inclusion (RUNOMI) and research project coordinator Migrants in the Frontline assessing the employment, housing and health conditions of labour migrants in the Netherlands in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Eva Jongsma, Policy Officer for Social Development at the municipality of Zevenaar. Focussed her work on the implementation of the Social Support Act (Dutch: Wmo) and other citizen well-being subjects.