- Lost in Translation - The Voice of the Community in our Changing Urban Future    click here to open paper content61 kb
by    Byrnes, Terence P. | tbyrnes@byrnes.com.au   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
More fundamental than the disconnection between the rates of planning response to rapid urban change is the universal failure of communication between those who are planning and those who are being planned for. The loss is that of the essential critical audience that otherwise legitimizes the whole process and purpose of planning.
Blame rests largely with misguided community expectations but before trying to reform the means it is also timely to revisit the primary goals for effective community engagement.
Within the evolving process of planning for urban change, the worldwide failure to integrate societies’ responses effectively is a fundamental challenge. It is vital that this failing not be relegated to being just a subset of any over riding preoccupation with accelerating rates of urban change, the issue is of equal concern. It being the third element in the triangular synergy between the who, what and how urban planning can ever be justified at all.

It is therefore timely to refocus on the socio-political aftermath of planning as a process in general, in order to better understand why the goal of achieving ‘social inclusiveness’ is more often found to be elusive. Considering the Australian experience, where the community has applied extensive and prolonged opportunity for involvement in the understanding of boarder planning objectives, the outcome generally is deemed to have demonstrably failed. That conclusion is drawn not just based on national or cultural idiosyncrasies but also for other reasons considered to have more universal application.

Observations are drawn, to demonstrate that community interest is always one of a variety of a vested interests and planning directed to the greater public good is a myth. While community expectations have become misdirected by being too focused on the detail impacts of local development approval .Resulting in the community at large being the ultimate loser, generally uneducated in the processes of urban challenges and change.

Sustainable community engagement in the determination of its future plans has been taken to be espoused as a universal goal even if far from universally applied. There remain however obstacles to the achievement of effective community participation that go beyond the limitations of local governance. It would be a further vanity born of denial not to first contemplate revisions even to those more established goals for engagement, before examining ways to achieve more viable means – that examination being the focus of this paper and one that is drawn in response to the challenge of the Congress theme.
Community engagement theory
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