Can we use deliberative practices to address housing challenges at the neighbourhood level, and improve economic security and wellbeing?
Our home and the neighbourhood we live in affects our ability to live a good life. Whether it’s the affordability of housing determining how much money we have to spend, or the quality of housing impacting how long and how well we live, or the connectivity of our neighbourhood to the things we need (likes education and work) affecting the opportunities we can access – where we live interacts with almost every aspect of our daily lives.
Despite this, the role that we get to play in the decision-making that happens about our home or about the neighbourhood we live in can be underwhelming. Even where there are opportunities for the everyday resident to get involved, processes like community consultations or neighbourhood planning often fail to make room for meaningful participation for all. Instead of empowering and enabling residents, extractive interactions, a lack of trust and relationship building with residents, and poor accountability can lead to residents feeling ignored, patronised and even more disengaged.
In the UK, although not many people feel able to influence and have a say in local decision-making and direction-setting, more and more, residents and communities want to. Findings from our recent research also suggests this is true within the specific context of our homes and local neighbourhoods. Given the lack of opportunity for meaningful participation, the RSA have been working with a group of residents to explore whether deliberative methods, and in particular a citizens’ assembly-style process, could enable a more distributed approach to decision-making and direction-setting in our neighbourhoods.