Deciding what we should build where always seems to stoke intense emotions and conflict. Greater Manchester’s Spatial Framework set out plans for how land could be best used across the city region. The resulting consultation gave voice to a kaleidoscope of different concerns and interests but generated very little in the way of constructive discussion. With a consultation on a new draft currently planned for October, we thought now was a great time to ask how we create better conversations about the future shape of Greater Manchester.

You can help us explore this question. ‘Space in Common’ is a project based on a series four workshops happening around the build-up to Greater Manchester’s Spatial Framework consultation, and we are looking for people to take part.

Who are we looking for?

Our aim is to bring together a small group of 12-15 people with experience of Greater Manchester’s consultation from a wide range of different perspectives, and with access to wider networks or groups that you could use to push for change. We hope to mix housing developers with local campaigns groups, transport charities with business people, and economists with activists. We are looking for people who:

  • Have some knowledge and experience of the first consultation process
  • Have different kinds of ‘stake’ in the spatial planning process, for instance, through those engaged in housing, social inclusion, environmental protection, heritage, property development, land ownership, recreation, local government, transport, business, planning etc
  • Are attached to an organisation, institution, network or group and can mobilise wider networks (even if small) to drive change
  • Have a link to Greater Manchester

What’s involved?

Working in four, two and half hour, workshops we’ll explore peoples’ prior experience of the Spatial Framework consultation, and unearth the challenges encountered in trying to influence change. From this we’ll investigate how a better quality of debate could be created, with a focus on making an inclusive, informed, and constructive discussion.

As the workshops progress we’ll also be encouraging our participants to take action themselves to start building better conversations around the issues you care about. We’ll be exploring how our group can help each other; and we’ll be making practical support available to our participants.

What’s the point?

You will be at the forefront of discussion on how to create better policy and community conversations, working in a carefully assembled team. What we learn together from the project will be published and promoted via our existing networks to key policy-makers and influencers, both in Greater Manchester and beyond. We have good working relationships with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Housing, Planning and Homelessness Commission and Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub.

Participants will also be able to access practical support from us to take actions themselves. The workshops will also give participants a chance to connect with a wide range of local groups and explore opportunities to support each other.

Space in Common is part of a wider Jam & Justice project (see below). As part of this, participants will be invited to join a coalition for developing a city region based on a more participative, ‘co-productive’ way of working.

How to take part

To express interest in taking part, please fill in this short online form to let us know who you are.

We will select our final group of participants to try and cover a range of different interests and prior experiences, and will get back in touch with those who express interest nearer the time. The form also asks you to tell us what time slots would work best for you. We’ll use this to plan when our workshops will be. Our first workshop has now happened (you can see what we talked about here) but its not too late to get involved.

If you have any questions or want to know more about this project, please get in touch with Mat Basford at:

Who we are

Space in Common is a project led and delivered in partnership between The Democratic Society and a group of academics and practitioner researchers in Greater Manchester, who organise as the Action Research Collective. The Democratic Society are an international organisation that works to get people more involved in decisions that affect their lives. The Action Research Collective is part of the Jam & Justice project, a research collaboration led by the Universities of Sheffield, Birmingham and Manchester and the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations. Space in Common has funding from the Economic and Social Research Council and Mistra Urban Futures. Space in Common is just one of the projects initiated by the Action Research Collective. You can find out more about the other projects here.


[Image: Peter Griffin,]


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