Working towards a Blue House roundabout solution
Following Newcastle City Council’s decision in August to rethink their plans for the Blue House roundabout, a working group was set up with representatives from the Council and local community groups. Open Lab has helped to facilitate this process, including documenting the consultation process on the working group’s website.
The working group has held regular meetings to discuss the plans for the roundabout, which has one of the highest accident rates in Newcastle. The idea behind the group was to increase public consultation and engagement in the planning process, something which resonates with much of Open Lab’s work.
Clara Crivellaro, who has done research into an online community-led campaign to save Tynemouth Outdoor Pool, has attended meetings as part of the Open Lab team. She explained: “This is part of a larger agenda within digital civics, looking into the potential role of digital technologies and design to support meaningful public discussions and processes of public consultations around the future of the places that matter to us in the city.”
Open Lab’s involvement with the Blue House roundabout working group also builds on work by Ian Johnson, Zander Wilson and Jen Manuel, who have all researched ways of engaging the public, and in particular voices that are not often heard, with planning decisions.
While the working group was designed to include the voices of a range of residents and users of the roundabout, the planning process can still be made more transparent. Both textual and graphic minutes of the meetings are uploaded to the working group’s website, but the press are not allowed access to the meetings themselves.
This demonstrates a need to balance the requests of the working group participants with public accountability and involvement in planning processes, which feeds in to Open Lab’s digital civics research. The Blue House roundabout working group is not just about finding the best solution to the increased traffic at the roundabout; it is an opportunity to explore new ways of using technology to engage the public in planning decisions.
For more information please contact Clara Crivellaro.
Author: Mark Sleightholm