The Hoensbroek neighbourhood associations asked the Science Shop of Wageningen UR for support in designing a participation process to restructure a common park in their neighbourhood.
Hoensbroek is a district of Heerlen located in the south of Limburg, The Netherlands.
A project was started to answer the following questions:
- what are the needs of the citizens in Hoensbroek in relation to the common park
- do the residents support changes of the park, and
- how can the four neighbourhood associations best support this process.
During the project, a group of students discovered that the four neighbourhood associations were in great need of understanding the concept of participation and the participation process. This resulted in a guideline, including various steps for supporting the participation process. This guideline is found in the report ‘Naar een Groene Ontmoetingsplek; Reflectie op het initiëren van bewonersparticipatie door de vier Buurtstichtingen in Hoensbroek’ (in Dutch only).
Furthermore the report gives insights into new roles, expectations and responsibilities for concerned citizens, neighbourhood associations and municipality when starting a participation process. The researchers conclude that the citizens in Hoensbroek have worked hard and have shown commitment. Together with the four neighbourhood associations, they developed a plan for the redevelopment of the common park. However, the concerned citizens and the neighbourhood associations have not been able to carry out this plan. The researchers recommend a facilitator to guide this process and clear agreements between municipality and the concerned citizens in terms of conditions and responsibilities.