CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT EVENT: SMART PARKS IN NAMMA CHENNAI
Chennai Smart City Ltd.(CSCL) and Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC)
Citizen engagement plays a key role in urban design and planning, as is evident from other parts of the world. Citizen engagement helps authorities understand the exact needs of the community and how to better incorporate these in their projects. In keeping with this age of inclusive urbanism, CSCL and GCC with support from ITDP, Open Corridor Chennai and other partners aim to engage with the public and involve them in the process of design and planning, so as to build ownership for the projects among citizens, and to create more equitable and liveable cities.
The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, is the hand-holing agency to Chennai Smart City Ltd. for all urban mobility projects as part of the Smart City Proposal. Among many other projects, ITDP is providing support to facilitate citizen engagement for projects planned in Chennai and collect feedback from the public. Open Corridor Chennai, a non-profit organisation, helps to create information panels and a virtual reality experience of Natesan Park for the event, in order to help the public visualise the transformation of the park.
The public was pleasantly surprised that the government is taking the efforts to collect their feedback and make necessary edits in design. The avid users of the park were keen to learn more about the proposed design. The users were much excited to experience the proposed transformation through virtual reality. Some of the key concerns highlighted were:
Reduction of the park area to include 4 wheeler parking: The citizens strongly felt the need to conserve the extent of the park as a green space and were opposed to converting an edge into car parking space. Further, most users of the park are from the neighbourhood who walk to the park and hence there is no need for car parking.
Size and location of the children's play area: The current children's play area is well-used by children from the neighbourhood in the morning and evening. Most citizens felt that the current location and size are appropriate and requested to preserve the same.
Expand green cover: The respondents were appreciative of native tree species being planted in the park. They expressed their desire to have more shade-providing trees and also ensure that existing trees are not damaged during construction. They were also concerned about the increase in paving throughout the park that they feel will nullify the addition of trees.
All the feedback and opinions were collected as survey, both in online and physical formats. On both days of the event, officials from GCC and CSCL interacted with the park users and addressed their concerns. Further, GCC has agreed to incorporate the design changes as suggested by citizens and remove the car-parking structure that was to reduce the park area in the periphery.
This is the first of many citizen engagement events lined up for Chennai Smart City initiatives. For more details about the upcoming projects and programmes, citizens can visit www.cscl.co.in. Some photos from the event are given below.