Master and PhD students of the School of Geography and Planning of Sun Yat-sen University have been trained to organise participative workshops.
During two days and a half 17 students actively discussed Zhuhai strengths and weaknesses, looking five years ahead and thinking how the city could develop more sustainable policies. Working on housing, commuting, discussing economic transitions and industrial reconversion, they agreed on ambitious objectives and actions that would transform the city by 2022.
Rotating between role plays and presentations by two professional facilitators – Sabine Zillmer and Erik Gløersen (Spatial Foresight) – the trainees experienced how public consultations and participative planning can be done. In the coming weeks a handful of volunteers will step into in the shoes of the facilitators and will organise similar workshops – in cooperation with the Planning Bureau – with “real” local stakeholders in Zhuhai.
Following a meeting with the MEDIUM team, the Deputy Director of the Planning Bureau of the city of Zhuhai expressed confidence that the workshops would prove an asset in view of the revision of the five years Master plan of the city, process due to start next year.
The City has already some experience of participative planning; communities are associated with community development plans and five years ago residents were encouraged to comment the current Master plan through a public website. Yet the method proposed by Spatial Foresight will represent a significant innovation.
With a low population growth rate, high competition from the city of Hong-Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the race to attract top level graduates and high qualified workers, unbalanced economic development between the Western and Eastern areas, under developed public transport networks, the city of Zhuhai faces many challenges. This exercise should help building more robust and tailored sustainable policies.
Spatial Foresight and the MEDIUM team already organized one training and two participative workshops in the city of Hangzhou in 2015-2016. The training and the design of the workshops have been adapted to make the Zhuhai experience even more successful.