Wendy Jo Mifsud is senior planner at the Planning Authority with an interest in participatory planning and the use of technology in aiding bottom-up approaches to decision-making, subjects which form the theme of her ongoing PhD studies. This research deals with an analysis of whether Public Participation Geographic Information Science can provide an improved platform for citizen engagement in spatial planning, especially in the context of community spaces such as those being regenerated as cultural infrastructure within the remit of the Valletta 2018 Capital of Culture.
Wendy’s academic background has been varied, starting with an undergraduate degree in Architecture and Civil Engineering, and going on to gain postgraduate qualifications in Sustainable Heritage and GIS. Following a three year period during which Wendy worked on numerous urban planning projects in the UK, she returned to Malta and joined the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure to coordinate various heritage-related initiatives. She now works at the Planning Authority, dealing mainly with forward planning and strategic policy-making in the Maltese context.
Citizen engagement can be embarked upon for numerous place-based applications and can deal with divergent themes. In spatial planning, and even more particularly in planning for constantly developing places, successful citizen engagement can be a milestone in the drive towards sustainable city development. The Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture process has simultaneously catalysed the development of cultural infrastructure in Malta and a process of citizen engagement in culture-led regeneration.
In particular, Valletta has experienced significant change during the past five years, a situation that has been characterised both its transformative qualities as well as by its ability to mobilise people in the achievement of enhancing the liveability of the places they inhabit. Projects of note in Valletta include MUZA, Strait Street, the Covered Market and the Biccerija Design Cluster; and one must also give due weight to the consideration of the multiplier effects that these projects have on the wider regeneration of the area within which they are located.
But what are the official indicators of liveability and do these correlate with the considerations of the wider civic community? This paper explores the concept of liveability in terms of place-making, with a focus on the application of citizen engagement approaches to culture-led regeneration. The internationally recognised Mapping for Change platform developed by University College London is utilised to assess the relationship that people have with their city, assessing factors of liveability through the implementation of a Public Participation GIS initiative.