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A Place for Everyone: Gender equality and urban planning

A Place for Everyone: Gender equality and urban planning

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Published by Oxfam
Our towns and cities are shaped by government policy and land-use planning. However, planning policy tends to ignore the fact that women and men use public space very differently and have different concerns about how it meets their needs. Looking at gender issues in planning is central to success in economic regeneration and social inclusion. This paper looks at the barriers facing local authorities, examines planning levels, and recommends changes, giving examples of good practice. For more detailed guidance, we recommend the Royal Town Planning Institute Good Practice Note on Gender and Spatial Planning (RTPI, 2007).
Our towns and cities are shaped by government policy and land-use planning. However, planning policy tends to ignore the fact that women and men use public space very differently and have different concerns about how it meets their needs. Looking at gender issues in planning is central to success in economic regeneration and social inclusion. This paper looks at the barriers facing local authorities, examines planning levels, and recommends changes, giving examples of good practice. For more detailed guidance, we recommend the Royal Town Planning Institute Good Practice Note on Gender and Spatial Planning (RTPI, 2007).

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Published by: Oxfam on Apr 12, 2011
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02/08/2013

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Gendered patternsin use ofspace
>
Poorly considered land-use zoning policyseparates residential areas from employmentlocations,with a greater impact on women’smobility.
>
Women make more complex journeysthan men,often travelling to childcare,school,work,and shops.More than twiceas many women as men are responsiblefor escorting children to school.
>
Seventy-five per cent ofbus journeysare undertaken by women
>
Only thirty per cent ofwomen have accessto the use ofa car during the daytime.
>
Poor public transport and lack ofcaringfacilities and shopping outlets near employment locations restrict women’saccess to the labour market.
>
Women feel less safe than men being outalone after dark,especially in the inner city,or social housing estates.
1
 A virtuous circle?
When planning takes intoaccount the differentneeds ofwomen andmen,this means:
>
public transportroutes that supportwomen’s travel patterns
>
measures to make publicspace feel safer at night
>
more support facilities,such as local shops,childcare,and public toilets
>
employment opportunities locally,meaningmore mixed use development
>
more women would be able to takeemployment,training,and leisure opportunities
>
economic development opportunities wouldbe increased
>
social inclusion programmes would bemore effective.
 Why is planning a gender issue?
Looking at gender issues in planning is central to success in economicregeneration and social inclusion.We take the opportunity ofthe newGender Equality Duty on public authorities to look at the barriers,examineplanning levels,and recommend changes,giving examples ofgood practice.Land-use planning provides the spatial setting for government policy,shaping the way our towns and cities are designed.However,planningpolicy tends to ignore the fact that women and men use public space verydifferently and have different concerns about how it meets their needs.For more detailed guidance,we recommend the Royal Town Planning InstituteGood Practice Note on Gender and Spatial Planning (RTPI,2007)
 A place for everyone?
Gender equality and urban planningA ReGender Briefing Paper 
Planning policytends to ignore thefact that womenand men usepublic space verydifferently
continued overleaf…
 
The Women’s Design Service
2
has carried out Safety Audits in Walthamstow,Southwark and Peckham.As a result,pavement obstaclessuch as such as litter-bins and traffic signshave been removed,and lighting improved to increase personal safety.In Lewisham,new policy proscribes solid shutters over shop windows,because they worsened the quality oflighting on thestreets at night,and made women returningfrom work in the evenings feel threatened.
3
Planning space in cities:
levels ofconcern
1.
City-wide planning
is the most importantplanning level for setting the contextand direction ofgender-inclusiveplanning.The key to success isintegrating gender considerationsinto mainstream spatial planningpolicy
topics
,such as housing,employment,and leisure,andlinking gender into other high-leveloverarching policy
issues
,suchas sustainability,economic growthand social inclusion.A matrixapproach can be useful.
The London Borough ofLewisham uses anEqualities Impact Assessment spreadsheet.Gender implications and other equality issues,are assessed for each policy area in the Unitary Development Plan.As a result,Lewishamshifted its policy on employment site provisionto provide more local jobs to benefit womenand reduce long-distance commuting.
4
There isalso benefit for sustainable development policies
2.
New regional and local tiers
in the planningsystem mean local authorities can meet gender needs in the development ofRegional SpatialStrategies and Local Development Frameworks.
Gender has been integrated into regional policy,anti-poverty initiatives and urban regeneration programmes,in the Midlands and Yorkshire,connecting employment policy to childcare provision.
5, 6
Local women were involved fromthe outset.They gave their preferences on thelocation ofchildcare provision in relation totheir journey patterns between home and work,and were represented on decision-makingregeneration committees.
3.
To find out what really concerns both womenand men,
public participation
needs toactively include them.
Thames Gateway Forum,as a result ofa new approach to participation,pioneered innovativeways ofinvolving women in decision-making,in traditionally ‘male’technical transport  planning.Rather than restricting consultationon already agreed policy issues,womenand men in the community were encouraged to raise their concerns.Women drew attention to station toilet provision,safety at unstaffed stations,and off-peak journey provision for  part-time workers.
7
4.
Local authority planners
,usinga proactive approach,have a major role in ensuring gender is takeninto account locally.For example,Leicester has established a modelgender monitoring system in itsdevelopment control department.
15
Localauthority technical departments can havea profound effect on women’s access to,and movement within the built environment.Research has found that ifpublic toilets arenot available at transport termini and in citycentres,within walking distance,some womenwill not travel at all.
8
5.
Planning law
is influential.Reasonablesocial requirements should be included inthe development plan (with detail provided,ifnecessary,in a SPD).The move from landuse to spatial planning,which takes into accountbroader social,environmental and economicconcerns,should reduce the risk ofreasonablesocial requirements being ‘ultra vires’(‘beyondpower’).An inclusive and creative aproach to‘planning gain’,through Section 106 agreementscan result in gender-related provision,such asthe requirement for childcare provision as partofnew commercial development.
9, 10
Recommendations
Getting policy andpractice right
>
Gender should be akey consideration in alloverarching policy areasincluding sustainability policyand economic development.
11
This would also contributetowards high-level policy objectives insocial inclusion,housing policy,healthy cities,crime reduction,liveability,transport planningand urban regeneration (Department of Communities and Local Government,2006
12
).
>
Revisions to national planning guidance,including Planning Policy Statements,shouldincorporate advice on the gender implicationsofspecific planning policy topics.Gender guidance at national level should be cascadeddown through the Government Offices,andtaken into account by Regional Development Agencies,strengthening government supportfor gender-sensitive planning at local planningauthority level.
>
Local planning authorities should developgender-disaggregated statistical data on theneeds ofmen and women,when monitoringtransport planning policies,use offacilitiesand types ofdevelopment,complaints,feedback and public participation exercises.
>
Gender considerations need to be takeninto account at the local planning level,ondevelopment control practice and management,and in all aspects oflocal area decision-making.To make this requirement effective the scopeand remit ofplanning law needs clarificationand revision to accommodate the requirementsofthe new equality agenda,and the Gender Equality Duty in particular.
>
Local authority technical departments,andtransport operations need to develop awarenessas to the different impact oftheir work onwomen and men. Areas ofresponsibilityinclude design and maintenance ofstreetlighting,highways,railway stations,publictoilets,refuse disposal,and street management.
>
Planning policy should take into accountthe requirements ofwomen as well asmen in the location ofdifferent landuses and the transport links betweenthem at strategic and city-wide level.
13
>
More public transport routes areneeded within and between localareas,especially in the suburbs andfor more off-peak provision for thoseundertaking part-time work locally.
Hearing from women and men
>
The specific needs ofwomen and men needto be actively brought into “Statements of Community Involvement”,now a statutoryrequirement in the new planning system.Practical issues such as when,where andhow meetings are held,and a more open,proactive approach is needed,rather thana fixed agenda to comment on.
>
Men are the majority ofplanners and urbandecision makers,and they need to be awareofthe different needs ofwomen and men.Examples ofgood practice include gender-sensitive training schemes for planninginspectors.
14
Gender awareness trainingshould be integral to educational programmes,degree courses,and Continuing ProfessionalDevelopment alongside other overarchingissues such as sustainability andtransportation policy.
>
Women should be encouraged into the builtenvironment professions,such as surveying,architecture and engineering.There are fewer women in the commercial sector ofpropertydevelopment and therefore there is unlikelyto be an consideration ofgender issues inthe deliberations on regeneration schemes.
15
For example,currently,the Royal InstituteofBritish Architects is acting upon researchrecommendations to recruit and retain morewomen architects.
16
>
Guidance and support is already out there:the RTPI Toolkit (RTPI,2003) and the EqualityScore Card (RTPI,007) enable local planningauthorities to integrate gender considerationsinto planning.
City-wideplanning is themost importantplanning level for setting the contextand direction of gender-inclusiveplanningGender shouldbe a keyconsideration in alloverarching policyareas includingsustainability policyand economicdevelopment
 A place for everyone?
Gender equality and urban planning

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