Between February and June 2003, Countryscape was contracted to Groundwork as part of the Irk Valley Project - a partnership between Groundwork, Manchester City Council, NGOs, residents' associations and local businesses, working with the Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology (University of Manchester) to trial an innovative participatory planning process. A total of 18 workshops and site visits allowed community members and partners to explore new ideas for North Manchester and in particular, Moston Vale: a green space along the River Irk.
Countryscape’s role in the project was to help translate the outputs of workshops into clear and accessible graphics. This involved the production of custom-made maps, masterplans, sketches, visualisations and other communication tools.
The framework developed for the Irk Valley was used by organisations including the Forestry Commission, North Manchester Partnership and Groundwork as a basis for strategic planning. The Moston Vale masterplan was itself adopted as a basis for regenerating the site (as part of Phase One of the Newlands Project). The participatory planning process, develop by Dr Joanne Tippet at the University of Manchester, has since evolved to become Ketso: a commercial product for helping people to manage better meetings and workshops.
The team at Countryscape showed a range of skills in helping to pull this complex project together into a coherent set of graphics. They combined a creative approach with a sound knowledge of technology and its potential uses in developing communication tools. They were particularly good at working with us to develop graphics consistent with our educational approach, showing their grasp of the field of sustainable planning - Joanne Tippett, Project Manager, CURE (University of Manchester)