Towards a participatory approach in managing change in multi-stakeholder buildings of historical importance in London, UK

Purohit, Ruchit Pravinchandra Sumitra (2014) Towards a participatory approach in managing change in multi-stakeholder buildings of historical importance in London, UK. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


The question of the meaning of Heritage has evolved for more than two hundred years. Calls for a common understanding of Heritage have developed extensively in the last four decades leading to the incorporation of diverse practices in its management. This shift in management could be perceived in a positive sense as adaptive and progressive or alternatively in a negative sense as extensive and opportunistic. The factors influencing the practice and theory of Heritage management keep increasing under these layers, leading to the inclusion of various other fields. This leads to the underlying importance of Heritage being defined as a multi-disciplinary field. The study identifies that there is a lack of coherent understanding among experts and locals on how buildings of historical importance can be listed and managed in a participatory manner. There is a need for a platform for direct communication between stakeholders involved in the management of these buildings of local historical importance. Recently, with the introduction of Localism Act 2011, National Planning Policy Framework 2012, Enterprise and regulatory Reform Act 2013, the gaps and the issues identified at the beginning of this research in 2009 are corroborated. These acts and guidance were introduced to streamline the planning system and in relation to this research will help in having a linear process in Heritage management. It supports the idea of Big Society where more power is given to citizens and helps in moving towards a participatory approach to planning. Through decentralisation, as the government gives power back to the people, it is important to understand that each stakeholder has an important role to play in any development. Hence stakeholder collaboration is the key to success of any project. The aims of this research are: to understand the decision-making processes in the management of historic buildings in London and to propose a conceptual framework to assist in participatory decision-making. This will aid the Heritage Partnership Agreements (HPA) proposed by the UK government. The literature review explores the concepts of Heritage management, Heritage production model, decision-making, participatory planning and community engagement and a conceptual framework is developed. Two case studies from London, The Brunswick and Brixton Market, are conducted for data collection. Rigorous data collection and analysis using NVivo is employed. Research findings from these exploratory studies confirm that there is a need for a common platform for stakeholder interaction and participatory planning; and different stakeholders have different priorities leading to the need of a shared vision. There exists a gap between communities’ desired management of the building and the stakeholders’ expectation. This study generates new knowledge about the needs for attaining stakeholder engagement in the management of Heritage. This study also offers a methodological contribution that could be applied to a similar study on Heritage in different cities and countries.

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