Toolkit of GOOD PRACTICES on Citizen Participation!


Regeneration of the public recreational areas


Country: Hungary

Context

Involving the public in the decision-making process on how to regenerate public recreational areas. The presented public participation model was developed for the planning of the regeneration of the public recreational areas at the Országbíró high rise housing estate in the 13th District of Budapest.

Measure

The aim was to create a new tool to help reach consensus on the sensitive issues regarding how to regenerate public recreational areas (playgrounds, sport areas, parks, promenades) in a densely populated residential area. The aim was to create a development program for the 15-hectare high rise housing estate - with a budget of approximately 1.8 million EUR - to meet the needs of the majority of the residents and minimize the conflicts and disturbances caused by recreational facilities. The municipality’s intention was to create a development plan with a strong cooperation between the local residents, in order to make them feel the project was their own, and to lay the foundations for a further involvement of the residents in the management of the green space.

Target Group

The target group was the whole population of the housing estate, approximately 3200 people.

Methodology

We have created a four-stage toolset for public involvement.
A public opinion poll, providing a general overview on the resident’s opinion on what the problems and the development needs are. This research was carried out as a safety measure in order to avoid the dominance of partial interest groups during the participation process.
Series of public forums, focusing on different parts of the housing estate. In these forums participants had the opportunity to describe the problems, values and development needs of the recreational areas. Participants were asked to set priories for the development suggestions of others.
Using the findings of the opinion poll and the summaries of the public forums a development program was created. The designers were asked to put forward open space development projects according to the planning program. Where there were contradicting development suggestions (e.g. playground vs. quiet green space), the designers had to present more development alternatives for the given area.
The concept plan with the possible alternatives was presented at a final public forum where participants were asked to pick the projects they preferred. Participants were asked again to create a priority list of the several potential development projects. This was needed to assist us to decide on which suggestions to spend the limited budget. Following the final forum the concept plan was published and the detailed construction plans were elaborated according to that.

Stakeholders

The stakeholders were the whole population of the housing estate, approximately 3200 people.

Assessment

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Impact

As a result of the public participation planning project the residents were not just well informed about the development aims and the planned timing of the project, but – as a result of the participation – they also regarded the project as their own. Despite the significant inconveniences and the disturbances caused by the construction work, the number of residential complaints remained very low compared to other regeneration projects. Following the completion of the constructions we have carried out the same public opinion poll as prior to the development. This enabled us to measure the success of enhancing the recreational functions of the housing estate according to the opinion of the users. In the opinion poll, we asked whether the information provided on the project was sufficient, and also whether the opinion, the requests and the suggestions of the residents had been taken into account by the municipality. On both questions the average of the answers were over four (on a scale from one to five where five was the best mark). This indicates that the residents were satisfied not just with the results of the regeneration, but also with the method and level of communication.

Swot

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