Sustainable development and participation in estate regeneration: a mixed methods case study

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O'Leary, Seán A.
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University College Cork
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The concepts of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘participation’ share much in common, and, though contested, they are normative features of estate regeneration. This thesis explores how both concepts are understood and have influenced regeneration policy and practice and whether opportunities exist to integrate them further. This is achieved through a case study of the regeneration of Knocknaheeny, Cork, Ireland, utilising a novel exploratory sequential mixed methods research design with qualitative (22 interviews and a focus group) and quantitative (content analysis of 18 multi-scalar policy documents) components. The thesis shows that given sustainable development’s long term focus on policy coherence and integration, effective governance, and careful use of resources to address social, economic and environmental issues, there is clear potential for its closer integration in regeneration, with participation necessary to ensure equitable, locally relevant and practical outcomes. However, overall, it was found that this is not reflected in national and local regeneration policy and practice. Sustainable development is interpreted in a limited way in the regeneration of Knocknaheeny, with little attention to the vision of residents, while several barriers to community participation exist. The thesis finds that Irish policy has not provided a firm conceptual foundation for either sustainability or participation in regeneration, and regeneration policy is biased towards physical regeneration, which limits the possibilities for holistic sustainable development. The thesis shows how sustainable development and participation present challenges and opportunities for Ireland’s traditionally centralised and managerial regeneration institutions and decision-making processes. To address this, an empiric reflexive, multi-level regeneration governance taxonomy for Knocknaheeny is proposed. The thesis concludes with four interrelated recommendations, proposing (1) the reorientation of local government regarding regeneration, (2) increased attention to sustainable development as a foundation for regeneration, (3) review of ‘traditional’ consultation methods and (4) the adoption of reflexive, multi-level regeneration governance. It represents a possible reform agenda for further operationalising sustainable development and participation in regeneration and is relevant to communities, policy makers and the academy.
Sustainable development , Public participation , Reflexive governance , Estate regeneration , Knocknaheeny Cork
O'Leary, S. A. 2022. Sustainable development and participation in estate regeneration: a mixed methods case study. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.