Sustainable participatory approaches in urban regeneration processes: lessons from Portsmouth Harbour and inner-city Hulme, Manchester

Isaac Boateng, Cletus Moobela

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The drive towards public participation in many policy areas across the globe has evolved over the years from the top-down approaches to modern day democratic institutions. This unprecedented culture of participation started in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the field of research and development and later spread to local community engagement. The benefits of incorporating participatory approaches in urban regeneration processes have been recited elsewhere in many pieces of scholarly work. Rather than dwelling on these tired concepts of benevolence of engagement, the aim of this paper is comment on the nature of participatory approaches with a view to securing a better understanding of sustainable participation structures. The authors perceive urban regeneration projects as a form of central intervention into existing socio-spatial systems in which two forms of participatory structures are possible: where the central authorities create artificial collaborative structures which normally end up assuming quasi-local authority functions and statuses, apart from being dependent on regeneration resources for their very existence. The second focuses on engaging the already existing formal and informal local community networks. It is argued in the paper that the latter are more enduring participatory structures than their artificial counterparts created by central planning authorities. The concept of urban regeneration is identified in the paper before scanning the case studies of the regenerations of Portsmouth harbour and inner city Hulme in Manchester for evidence on the validity of the above hypothesis. The discussion is largely a narrative of the evolution of participatory structures in these two examples. The paper noted that in both the regeneration of Portsmouth harbour and inner-city Hulme, those organisations formed for the projects ceased to operate at the conclusion of the projects while those „naturally‟ existing networks continued to operate and to look after the interests of the areas beyond the regeneration projects. Based on this kind of evidence, the authors feel entitled to suggest that in order to achieve true regeneration, the enabling environment for participation of existing community groups needs to be encouraged. Establishing parallel structures may not necessarily lead to sustainable solutions. By creating quasi-municipal parallels in the regeneration projects, it also negates the whole rationale for seeking to engage local communities in the decision-making processes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2008
EventFIG Working Week 2008: Integrating generations - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 14 Jun 200819 Jun 2008


ConferenceFIG Working Week 2008
Abbreviated titleIntegrating Generations


Dive into the research topics of 'Sustainable participatory approaches in urban regeneration processes: lessons from Portsmouth Harbour and inner-city Hulme, Manchester'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this