When I moved back to Dorset in late 2005, I was contracted by Poole Housing Partnership (PHP), to engage and collaborate with residents in Frobisher and Benbow flats in Alderney, Poole on a project to transform their large, communal courtyard, which had become run down and overgrown. The emphasis was on turning this space around to encourage the residents to take ownership of the space for recreational use, horticultural projects and informal play.
Through a series of consultation events, presentations, visits and design meetings, a landscape architect was engaged by PHP to listen to residents’ ideas and draw these up into a series of three design options. These were exhibited and residents selected their preferred option, which presented a vision for an aesthetically-pleasing, public realm space for residents and their visitors to enjoy – the design of which was based upon the large aesthetic, brick-work detail to be seen on the gable end wall of the flats.
The scheme was completed in 2006 and a residents’ group set up to maintain the new space. On the basis of this trail-blazing pilot scheme for resident involvement in PHP – I went on to create a toolkit for PHP Housing Officers which I entitled ‘Community Engagement in Public Realm Improvement Projects’, to aid sustainability in future initiatives.