Spaces of HOPE

The hidden history of community-led planning in the UK.

Spaces of HOPE will produce the first sustained history of community-led planning in the UK. Led by Oxford Brookes University, it will document the diverse and previously hidden ways in which people have come together to care for the future of their local environments and explore what their efforts mean for contemporary approaches to planning and participatory place-making.

The project will be using a mix of methods. Documentary and archival research will bring together scattered and fragmentary sources, including the uncatalogued archives of our impact partner, the Town and Country Planning Association, and the personal collections of the individuals and groups involved, some of which are in danger of being lost if not captured soon. Case studies of community-led planning initiatives will include the drawing up of ‘People’s Plans’, the building of new communities, anti-redevelopment campaigns and the creation of innovative participatory planning approaches.

By combining arts-based, participatory methods such as memory walks and photo elicitation with oral history interviews and workshops the project will explore narratives of participation and engender the sharing of memories within and across places. We will be constructing a digital archive to capture these artefacts and memories. Finally, we will be running workshops and events in case study areas and nationally to bring the lessons of the past into the present-day context.

Project Website

Project Team

  • Professor Sue Brownill (Principal Investigator — Oxford Brookes University)
  • Dr Andy Inch (Co-Investigator — University of Sheffield)
  • Dr Francesca Sartorio (Co-Investigator — Cardiff University)
  • Dr Loraine Leeson (Co-Investigator — Middlesex University)
  • Professor Geraint Ellis (Co-Investigator — Queen’s University Belfast)
  • Professor Glen Stewart O’Hara (Co-Investigator — Oxford Brookes University)
  • Dr Debbie Humphry (Postdoctoral Research Associate — Oxford Brookes University)
  • Dr Jason Slade (Postdoctoral Research Associate — University of Sheffield)
  • Matthew Groves (Research Software Engineer — The Digital Humanities Institute)