At Groundwork, our landscape design teams and community workers engage local residents in the co-design of neglected spaces. Working with communities as equal partners throughout, we help housing providers and local authorities to create vibrant, climate resilient greenspaces.

How we engage with communities

The conversation often starts with communities expressing dissatisfaction with a space that hinders rather than supports their activity and enjoyment. Groundwork’s engagement teams work with our landscape architects to tease out potential use of the space, involving all sections of the community and making sure that they hear from those who are sometimes reluctant to voice their thoughts or who don’t feel connected to their community as well as those who come forward to share their ideas and enthusiasm.

Our landscape architects take time to listen to everyone’s aspirations and use their design knowledge and skills to move the conversation forward towards creating a community-led vision. They help clarify what is feasible, technically possible and desirable for the space (eg native species, low maintenance planting, sustainable drainage) as well as providing inspiration from their previous work and that of their peers. They can even recommend some temporary measures that may help with local consultation, for example, pop up parklets can test which areas would work best for a more permanent parklet.

Benefits of a co-design approach

Of course, it would be much simpler and take less time for us to present the design to the community and justify our choices for specific features. So why don’t we do this? Why is community involvement so important to Groundwork?

Local people understand the local context; how the space is used, what local people’s concerns and aspirations are – they are the experts in their place and we shouldn’t underestimate the value of this for example they know which green space or tree is used as a way-marker and where age-friendly design may add extra benefits for local people. They have a long-term stake in making places work for local people and we can have a role in helping them achieve that.

So whilst it may take longer for all voices to be heard and for people to feel engaged with the final design, it is really worth it from our perspective; Groundwork aspires to create successful and sustainable places and this is our route to that vision.

By bringing local people together as part of this design process, new connections are built and a greater sense of ownership and pride is felt for the space; communities often take great care of the space and help to maintain it. This, combined with the environmental improvements, helps with the community’s resilience, sense of belonging and ultimately their wellbeing.

Community planting

Environmental considerations

We encourage all of our clients to consider integrating environmental principles, such as those listed below, into their designs. These are topics which we feel are important to consider in order to tackle the climate and nature emergencies.

Nature-based solutions

Improving biodiversity

Integrating SUDs

Our services

As well as being experts in community consultation, co-creation and community led design, our landscape institute registered architects have a number of technical skills and expertise including:

  • Sketch plans
  • 3D visualisations
  • Project management
  • Implementation and build

In addition, Groundwork can source corporate volunteers to support the build process.

Groundwork GM – Work with us

Please complete this form is you’re an organisation looking to work, or partner, with Groundwork Greater Manchester: