Virtual Slaithwaite:
A Web Based Public Participation
'Planning for Real'®

Steve Carver, Andy Evans, Richard Kingston & Ian Turton
School of Geography

University of Leeds


Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council's

Virtual Society Logo


  1. Executive Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. Planning For Real
  4. Internet Based Planning For Real
  5. Using The World Wide Web For Public Participation
  6. Public Response
  7. User Communities
  8. Conclusions
  9. Appendices
  10. Relevant Web Pages
  11. Contact Information

Executive Summary

This report examines the potential of using the World Wide Web interface as a tool for increasing public participation in environmental decision making. The use of on-line geographical information systems to allow public interaction with geographical features as an alternative to a traditional 'Planning For Real'® exercise was the main aim of the project. The desire to achieve an understanding of how the general public would respond to using a web based participatory tool is also discussed.

1. Introduction

1.1 In June 1998 the West Yorkshire Village of Slaithwaite carried out a 'Planning For Real'®(PFR) exercise to identify the views and opinions of local residents regarding the environment in which they lived and how they would like their village to develop in the future. The whole process was organised by Colne Valley Trust (CVT), an independent community based rural agency, which promotes and facilitates the economic, social and environmental regeneration of the valley.

1.2 Consultations with Kirklees Metropolitan Council's (KMC) Environment Unit helped identify the PFR exercise as an ideal opportunity to compare traditional methods of public participation in environmental decision making with new techniques being developed in the research project at the University. As part of a wider Government funded project under the name Virtual Society? the research carried out in this case study has aimed to conduct on-line experiments using prototype web based decision making systems. Analysis of user responses and the evaluation of the potential of these systems in democratising the decision making process is discussed. This will help to assist in the development of new theory in participatory environmental decision making.

1.3 The systems under development are essentially World Wide Web (WWW) fronted Geographical Information Systems (GIS). A GIS is a powerful computer-based tool designed for the mapping and analysis of geographical data and is widely used by planning authorities. The complexity of the GIS is hidden from the public user, but retains the ability to build up several scenarios or proposals based on particular choices made. This provides the members of the public with a powerful tool allowing them to make better informed decisions which can be fed back into the planning process. While GIS technology in the past has often been referred to as elitist due to its complicated user interface and high start-up costs this type of system breaks down certain barriers to access allowing the general public the use of such technology over the WWW.

Note: The Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation (NIF) is a National Charity, founded in 1988, with the main aim of maximising the participation of local people in decisions that affect their neighbourhoods and their quality of life. The founding director, Dr Tony Gibson, devised "Planning For Real" in the 1970s as a technique that is employed by the NIF fieldwork team. NIF has continued to develop and adapt this primary tool to meet both local and strategic consultation needs and as an essential process in community development programmes. NIF fieldworkers usually facilitate the process using large 3D scale models of the local area.

2. Planning For Real

2.1 PFR is an idea developed and patented by the Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation (NIF), a charitable trust based in Telford, as a means of involving local people more closely in local environmental planning problems and decision making. This is achieved through active participation and interaction with large scale physical models of the area which, more often than not, involve using the local community to construct the models. In this particular case local school children helped construct the model after the initial sculpting of the local landscape.

2.2 The Slaithwaite PFR exercise was co-ordinated for CVT by NIF and part funded by KMC. A 1:1,000 scale three dimensional model of a 2km2 area of the Slaithwaite village and valley was constructed by CVT and NIF with the help of local school children (see Figure 1). This was used as a focus for local discussion about planning issues within Slaithwaite. Local people were invited to register their views about particular issues by placing flags with written comments on to appropriate locations on the model. The results of this exercise were then collated by NIF with the potential to feed them back into the planning process via the Local Authority.

Figure 1: Part of the Slaithwaite PFR Model

2.3 One of the main aims of CVT is to consult with local people to find out their views, and involve them in local decision making and actions. The main features of the method are:

2.4 With particular reference to Slaithwaite, which has problems and concerns in common with other villages in the area, it was decided that the village would be the first in the Colne Valley to have the opportunity to undertake the PFR exercise. Additional problems being faced ranged from the disruption the canal restoration would make coupled with more serious traffic problems. There were also many issues surrounding public buildings and many of the old buildings which are in disrepair. With a diverse set of issues and views potentially being expressed by residents in the village the potential for conflict would appear to be inevitable. One of the advantages of the PFR method is that compromise and consensus become easier as all participants efforts become focused on the physical model. This allows practical non-threatening modes of interaction by being anonymous. The placement of a flag on the model expressing a view point has no attachment to an individual, unlike in a public meeting where people can attach a face to a point of view.

3. Internet Based Planning For Real

3.1 The PFR initiative provided the research project with an ideal opportunity to test out new methods of public participation by running a parallel exercise over the World Wide Web. Using the same 2km2 area of land around Slaithwaite the project developed a virtual model of the village which allowed the local community to interact with a virtual digital map giving them relatively instant access to queries which they pose and the ensuing results. In essence this was essentially an on-line GIS. There are many definitions of GIS, but a generally accepted definition is that of an advanced computer tool box for the input, storage, editing, manipulation, update, integration, analysis, visualisation and output of spatial data.

3.2 Recent developments have seen a massive increase in the number of practical computer applications available via the World Wide Web and the Internet. GIS is now counted among their number with quite a few sites across the world offering information on GIS, data, software, applications and advice. One or two of these sites are now offering the Web user with direct access to GIS packages for use with first, second or third party datasets. This allows the user to actually use a GIS package across the Internet via a custom interface accessed via a Web browser.

Figure 2: Virtual Slaithwaite


3.3 The Virtual Slaithwaite system is an on-line GIS facility and was arguably among the first such system available to the public which allowed a two-way flow of information. The web browser window consists of four frames each containing particular pieces of information (see Figure 2). Members of the public can view a map of Slaithwaite, perform zoom and pan operations to assist in visualisation and navigation, ask such questions as "what is this building?" and "what is this road?" and then make suggestions about specific features identified from the map. All user input can be stored in the web access logs which is then used for future analysis and feedback into the planning process. In this manner a community database is created, representing the range of views and feeling about planning issues in the village.

3.4 The small window in the top left hand corner of the screen displays what has been selected and the 'Instructions and Help' window changes to a form which can be filled in with the comments and suggestions regarding the selected feature. If a buildings feature is selected a form is provided allowing the input of text relating to that building. Other features, such as open spaces, the river or canal provide a free form text box allowing the user to type what ever they wish. This is then 'sent' to the system for future analysis. When the user has finished they exit the system and are provided with a series of questions asking them how they felt about using the system. They are also given the opportunity to make any further comments.

4. Using The World Wide Web For Public Participation

4.1 Traditional methods of public participation at planning meetings quite often involves a confrontational atmosphere. This can discourage participation by an often less vocal majority causing public meetings to be dominated by individuals who may have extreme views which may not necessarily represent the wider view of local people. Planning meetings often tend to take place in evenings at specific times which can limit the numbers of people who are able to attend. The restricted time and also the actual geographical location of public meetings can further restrict the possibility of widespread attendance. Physical access to such meetings can also cause problems for the disabled, the elderly and infirm as well as those who maybe deaf.

4.2 There are many advantages to a web based approach at local, regional and national public participation events. The meetings are neither restricted by geographical location or time. Access to the information about the issues being discussed are available from any location with web access. The information is also available at any time of the day thus avoiding the problems associated with holding meetings only in evenings. The concept of a "24/7", i.e. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access opens up opportunities for more people to participate in public consultations. Essentially with a web based system the public are at the end of a telephone line which enables them to make comments and express their views in a relatively anonymous and non-confrontational manner. This compares with the traditional method of standing-up in front of a group of relative strangers.

4.3 A web based system is unique in its ability to provide a 2-way flow of information from the public to the system and back again. In the Slaithwaite example the inputting of comments by the public directly into the system saves time and money. With the physical model comments made by the public have to be collated and put into a database by, in this instance, CVT which can take several weeks to compile and analyse. With the web based system this process is continually being updated as the public use the system and input their comments. The system offers a high degree of flexibility, buildings can be altered or updated with more relevant information throughout the public participation process. Several people commented on the 'Virtual Slaithwaite' system that a road and some buildings had been named incorrectly. This information allowed the system to be updated immediately by the operators.

4.4 In a traditional PFR setting using a physical model of the village the public are encouraged to place flags on places where they wish to express views and opinions. This limits the amount of information that the public can put across as the flags are relatively small. The web based system allows people to express more articulated views or comments about issues as opposed to the use of a flag placed on the physical model. NIF found the web based method useful and believe that there maybe potential to incorporate a stand alone, i.e. non web based system into their own PFR process. With the traditional method NIF representatives have to take the written proposals, which have been placed on the flags, off the model periodically and collate this information in a database for future analysis. With the computer model the public input their comments directly into the system thus bypassing the requirement of NIF to do this, saving them time and effort.

4.5 Considering NIFs enthusiasm for a similar system, not necessarily web based, we are seeking additional funding to further this type of work and develop the research and development of such systems in similar settings. While a web based system may not be necessary for a small scale village sized study a similar process for a more geographically dispersed population could play an increasing role in future public participation processes. It should also be noted that these systems are seen as ways to enhance, not replace, current methods.

5. Public Response

5.1 Widespread use of the Internet and the World Wide Web is still some time away although the speed at which business, government and to a certain extent the public have adapted to using the technology is arguably faster than any other technology before it. As computers become more widespread especially in schools and the workplace the ability of the general public to use and feel comfortable with computers and technology will increase. Computer software for drawing and manipulating map based software has over the past decade become much easier to understand and operate. As the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius once wrote 'a picture is worth a 1,000 words' and can thus relay a lot of information quickly and understandably to a wide audience.

5.2 The use of a map as the central theme of the web based system should provide instant familiarity of the location in which the public participation process is taking place. Several pieces of research in the past have questioned the publics ability to understand a map which is essentially a 'birds-eye' view of a place. Many people do not instantly recognise a place when it is presented to them as an areal view although this did not seem to be a problem with our on-line system. One explanation for this is the ability of the user to click on a feature on the map and be interactively informed what that feature is such as a road, restaurant or community building. This capability in the system helps the user to familiarise themselves with the map.

Figure 3: On-Line Public Comments


5.1 Using a dynamic map, i.e. one which is interactive and provides endless information about features on it, allows the user to elicit greater detail about issues and problems in hand. This type of information is impossible to provide on a traditional paper map and allows a much richer environment for the user to interact with. A feature which was not included in the Slaithwaite system but would have provided improved understanding on the public part would have been visual images such as photographs and even video footage of parts of the village to improve the familiarity of locations within the village. For example, photographs or artists impressions of the new canal through the car park could have been provided allowing the public to gain a better understanding of how the new canal will look in the village centre. The noise from traffic along particular roads could also be incorporated into any future systems.

5.2 As the Internet and more specifically the WWW develops and becomes a more widespread and accepted technology its use in public consultation exercises is likely to increase. The use of animation and 'real-world' images incorporated into such a system will breed familiarity and overcome some of the problems highlighted earlier in relation to map cognition. One encouraging aspect gleaned from this case study was the relative ease with which the people of Slaithwaite seemed to grasp the concept of using the WWW which appeared to go against some of the work done by others in the past on public interpretation of maps. One noticeable feature was the way parents and their children used the system. There were many cases where the children would operate the mouse and use the keyboard while parents and grandparents would direct them around the map getting them to click on particular features and tell them what to type in. This helps to account for the skewness in the user profile which is dominated by under 16 year olds.

5.3 On the whole it appears that the public response to the system was positive particularly with the ability to type in comments at great length as opposed to being restricted to a short sentence. Figure 3 above shows the location on the map of public comments, represented as dots. The darker dot represents a comment made which has been selected and can be read on the left part of the screen. The ability to provide feedback and read other peoples' comments could potentially be used for conflict resolution or on-line debate and discussion about particular issues. Many comments were made regarding the reduction in the size of the car park as a result of the canal being re-opened which can be identified on the comments map by the clustering of yellow dots.

6. User Communities

6.1 The potential numbers of people who can benefit from effective public participation make such processes worthwhile as they can benefit whole communities and provide the necessary input into difficult problems. Too often in the past the public have been seen as getting in the way of implementing and driving forward policy. It has often been the case though that a lack of public consultation has led to future problems within communities when they are ignored and not asked their view. Exercises such as Planning for Real® in the traditional sense and also complemented by the type of system developed for Slaithwaite can provide a community with a voice with which to express their opinions and ideas about the places where they live and work. Community groups and organisations such as Colne Valley Trust, other non-Governmental organisations, pressure groups and the Local Authorities themselves can all benefit from the use of effective public participation techniques.

6.2 Collaborative public consultation in local decision making and planning, whether relating to conservation, development or conflict resolution can take place through web based systems allowing increased public use. Due to the Internets ability to make information available to anyone with access all the time and also without any geographical constraints, the 24/7 concept, greater participation by all user communities is envisaged over the next 5 years or so. In the case of a local authority planning document, for example the Unitary Development Plan which KMC has produced, future public inquires and consultations on revisions and updates could be carried out across the WWW at all stages of the process. This could range from the initial public consultation, through information gathering from the public and building cases for and against particular policies and/or developments etc.

6.3 Since the PFR day in June 1998 several local authorities throughout the UK have increased the amount of information they provide on the web. While none have the interactive two-way capabilities of the system we have developed yet, many of them are actively investigating the potential of undertaking similar kinds of web based public participation processes. As the web continues to increase in popularity the type of system which has been tested in Slaithwaite is likely to be applied in similar situations in other parts of the country. This will hopefully allow a more transparent process in local environmental decision making.

7. Conclusions

7.1 While the 'Virtual Slaithwaite' system has worked relatively well further work in several areas is required before this participatory method could be adopted as a robust technique to complement current public participation processes. Considering this system was one of the first of its kind allowing a two-way flow of information and data between the public or 'user' and the 'client' the case study has provided very positive signs that their is future potential for this type of on-line web based participatory system. The concept of a two-way interaction between a user and client opens up many possibilities for participatory techniques. In this sense then while the user may range from individual members of the public to groups with common concerns the client side of the system comes in many guises. In the Virtual Slaithwaite case the client represented CVT as the initiator of the whole PFR process. In other cases the client could be the local authority who may decide to use the web for particular participatory processes such as the progression of an authority wide planning document or a local based initiative. The range of possibilities for carrying out this type of participatory technique is endless.

7.2 It is clear though that many more case studies and research and development work is required to investigate the use of more and different types of data. Case studies relating to different issues and different spatial scales are also required. Further work involving different sectors of the community is also required to develop more of an understanding regarding the public acceptance and understanding of web based participatory techniques. While the Slaithwaite case study appeared to run relatively smoothly more work needs to be undertaken with a wide range of age groups and sectors of the population to discover the ability and understanding of IT by these such groups.

7.3 One problem identified relating to the users of the physical model was the noticeable lack of generating considerable interest in the late teens to late twenties age groups. Attending public meetings and expressing an opinion is not viewed as a particularly fashionable way to spend your evenings by this age group. The Internet and the World Wide Web could help to popularise the concept of public participation through several channels. Whether access is obtained through the home or through a cyber-café the anonymity of participation maybe the key to increasing the numbers of younger people participating in local democracy. The modern and fashionable nature of the web also has the potential to increase participation within this age group.

7.4 Several issues still need resolving around the following themes:

7.5 While the Slaithwaite case study worked extremely well the testing of further on-line public participation systems is urgently required in both similar and different settings. This is partly being realised in the wider research project with two further case studies at the regional and national scales investigating new woodland planting and nuclear waste disposal respectively. The levels of public involvement across different spatial scales in combination with a series of single and multi-issue problems needs to be investigated. This will contribute to an improvement in the understanding the public have with regards particular planning issues and decision making problems.

7.6 Public access to the Internet is still relatively low at the moment. All the indications suggest that levels of access are improving as many Internet Service Providers are offering free access with only local telephone calls to be paid for. While this is encouraging it hides the fact that the types of people going on-line are dominated by middle class educated people. To avoid other sectors of society from being excluded innovative means of engaging these people, such as the unemployed, are required. Public access points in libraries, community centres and other public buildings should be encouraged. Where public involvement in particular public participation initiatives is required systems can be set up which allow access only to information on the specified issue. This resolves the problem of providing unlimited WWW access which encourages people to get distracted by other web sites. Many local authorities have public information systems and kiosks. These can be adapted to provide facilities relating to specific decision making questions and problems.

7.7 There is very little evidence on how local authorities view and may react to the possibility of on-line public participation systems. While nearly all local authorities have web sites the levels of interaction and participatory tools available within them are extremely limited at present. Over the next 5 years or so the use of the WWW by local authorities will inevitably increase and its potential for carrying out public participation processes in all areas or local authority work is boundless. From the evidence received so far it appears that the WWW offers a great opportunity to increase public involvement in local decision making and can help to make such events more popular.

8. Appendices

Appendix I: Public Comments

1. Carr Lane needs another pedestrian crossing near Lloyds Bank this will be even more necessary following the canal development. A pinch points as suggested should be avoided. These would only slow down traffic leading to even more congestion and air pollution. Car parking is a very contentious point with the locals and needs a lot of attention. A very good suggestion is that parking should be provided opposite the shops once the canal is developed. The pavement at this side of the road is very little used and should be done away with. Cars spaces could then be arranged in chevron to get the maximum in and to look less obtrusive. It might be desirable in environmental terms to get rid of cars altogether but that is just not going to happen - so you might as well plan for a lot of cars unfortunately.

2. We think that the traffic problem in Carrs Road i.e. lorries and other HGVs could be re-routed away from the village centre by an alternative road which crosses the river further down towards Huddersfield directly on to Manchester road. When the canal project is being constructed we envisage terrible congestion due to the heavy traffic which has to travel along Cars Lane to the industrial estate. Our second point is the appearance of the shop fronts in Carrs Lane. Their aesthetic appearance is not conducive to how we perceive the village once the canal project has been completed. The whole of the shop fronts that line Carrs road and line the route of the canal really ought to be refurbished in some consistent style which fits in the canal ambience. Once this has been done perhaps the canal and the shops could be brought together with cobbles.

3. Opportunities not yet grasped to announce the village to users of the main road. Recent safety measures are sensible and beneficial but fail to convey a sense of identity or character for the village.

4. Opportunity here for landmark design artwork to mark the point on Manchester road which connects to village centre. Needs to be eye-catching but subtle and respectful of the valleys landscape character

5. Access road for container traffic.

6. It would be good to rescue the path up to Bolster Moor before it is lost

7. A history of the network of paths which once led to the mills would be useful in re-kindling interest in the paths which are still evident

8. Canal should be at least two boats wide and the street area in front of the shops should be closed to traffic and made into a pedestrian area.

9. Get rid of it rugby

10. Play ground

11. Car sale

12. The canal towpath offers great potential for a traffic cycle route along the length of the Colne Valley. It would be good to see this potential realised. There seems to be a lot of concern over car parking in relation to the canal restoration - cycles need parking places too.

13. The unit beneath the railway arches frequently produces huge amounts of diesel fumes which float round the town centre.

14. This side of the swimming pool car park is very scruffy and especially the steps from the road in the corner. This could be an extra amenity area.

15. The stream side gardens of the houses on brook terrace are mostly overgrown and out of control. It would enhance the area if people were given help to landscape the stream. Also the brook is very overgrown and strewn with debris.

16. Ban large lorries altogether. These sort of industries should be sited elsewhere - not in the middle of nice villages.

17. Landscaping of the banking and surrounding areas of the reservoir would improve its appearance . Cost of such improvement could be shared between the owners and other sources. English Heritage.

18. Heavy vehicles accessing the industrial sites from Britannia road are adding to near impossible congestion - the industrial areas being developed in this part of Slaithwaite require access from Manchester road by other routing. Possibly a new access road from further down the valley to relieve congestion in the centre of the village.

19. Hope that there will be good provision for cyclists along the canal

20. Build it ASAP. As long as there is still parking available in Slaithwaite then the canal should be successful.

21. Connect to Manchester road is this possible it would solve many of the heavy traffic problems

22. Put a permit holders only sign up on Netherend Road.

23. Maintain as wildlife corridor after re-opening of canal.

24. Raise height of water surface so that boats going through can view shops along whole length of village shopping area.

25. Traffic control needed.

26. Dry ski slope.

27. Do not increase car parking spaces currently available.

28. Clean up the overall environment around the reservoir witch includes nettles and bramble bushes that have died. Thank you!

29. Would actively support re-opening of canal through Slaithwaite. Objections such as danger to children is preposterous as canal is already available to children who wish to drown themselves - they also have the reservoir as an appropriate alternative.

30. Why are we not taking advantage of Slaithwaites spa town history can we not re-establish somewhat of a spa town by restoring this area.

31. More litter bins should be provided in this area thank you

32. Double yellow lines should be placed in this area thank you

33. Needs pedestrianising with park and ride facilities

34. Please leave create more open space - we moved here from Leeds to escape pollution from cars and lorries.

35. Maintain rail services to Slaithwaite and Marsden. Integrate this service more substantially with that of the bus service rather than having both buses and trains departing for Slaithwaite within 10 minutes of one another.

36. Stop HGV vehicles and introduce speed restrictions

37. Access to takeaway over the canal required

38. Need speed restrictions on Radcliffe road particularly where the cars are parked on one side of the road. Also problem with vandalism on parked cards in between Golcar and Slaithwaite which the police have given up on.

39. Too much heavy traffic very dangerous for all but especially the young and the very old suggest more speed control and police along with more crossing points

40. Traffic gets very congested at the top of Ned Lane and this is made worse by people parking outside houses or to visit the shop in the old CO-OP. In the interests of traffic flow and safety parking should be banned at all times of day - night - evenings and weekends at this location

41. The Pack Horse car park could be used for a green area

42. They should make the playing field bigger and proper facilities

43. There are plans to develop this area - access needs to be maintained - cobbled road and pathway

44. They should make the docking area smaller to make way for more parking

45. The ugly two meter drop needs to be landscaped with shrubs

46. The reintroduction of the canal is a disaster for the people who live and work in Slaithwaite. It will destroy the way we live and too little attention is being given to ordinary people and everyday life in favour of the canal enthusiasts dreams. Yes it's coming but I wish it wasn't.

47. Football field

48. Garages

49. Clear up area. Undergrowth needs clearing out and trees cutting back trimming. Footpath down to brook should be properly made up- over the bridge etc.

50. I am informed by Kirklees planning staff that no survey of traffic volumes using Carr Lane and Bridge St. have been carried out. What I am concerned about is the current traffic flow on these streets. If this canal project is part of an overall design then a new road to the industrial state should be constructed from Manchester Rd. I'm particularly concerned that if no traffic routing measures are worked out during the construction phase of the canal then chaos will ensue

51. What is planned for this area where the current cherry blossom trees exist. Are they to be replaced.

52. Its always got traffic jams - what shall we do?

53. Good place for a racing track.

54. Train station - a vets a leisure facilities - a ten pin bowling centre - a night club.

55. Need CCTV in station car park if people are to feel safe leaving cars there. Currently it is almost invariably empty.

56. Clean up and provide other facilities e.g. Skate ramp or BMX track.

57. Make an indoor fishing centre like a swimming pool except it has fresh water in it instead of chlorine water.

58. Please ensure that the canal is integrated into the village by stepping the towpath down on the road side. We should avoid having a steep sided cut that is isolated from pedestrians on the village side.

59. This road is dangerous. Large vehicles can be travelling at speed through this residential area. Children have to wait foe a bus to get them to Wilberlee school at the side of the road. No pavement to walk to school either.

60. Improve the area at the head of the reservoir possibly with a nature trail and tidy up the dam.

61. Reduce traffic speed. Enforce existing traffic restrictions. Dogs fouling pavements a problem.

62. Would like to see additional toilets for locals and tourists. As many trees as possible.

63. Make this road one way and the south side of the street blocked off and pedestrianised.

64. Put an permit holders only sign up because too many people park in front of residential buildings.

65. This road is dangerous. Large vehicles can be travelling at speed through this residential area. Children have to wait foe a bus to get them to Wilberlee school at the side of the road. No pavement to walk to school either. Recently a child was knocked over when visibility was bad. At least there needs to be a well enforced 20mph restriction2cbetter still speed bumps and enforced compulsory restriction on large vehicles. Accidents of serious nature waiting to happen.

66. Make this road one way.

67. Turn into a indoor fishing centre

68. Where is Spa Lane on this map?

69. Prevent access to the cricket field via Campinot Vale. Many people - mainly children - come through this residential area and over the wall to the ground.

70. Make an fishing boat hire centre because this is a good place to launch boats.

71. There has been much debate about the need to provide access to the industrial area via nab lane ... This would be a shame if it detracted significantly from the natural habitats which exist in the area and from the recreational use enjoyed by many. However - the lorries are a problem in the village and if this route could be developed sensitively - i.e. Noise reduction schemes - speed control - time restrictions etc so as to minimise impact on residents - it would clearly be the most practical.

72. Bicycles need to have warning bells and use them. If to be allowed on the tow path

73. Railings

74. Repair uneven paving

75. Dog dirt problem - possible use of special bins

76. Better facilities

77. Crunch corner swimming pool

78. Bradford bulls fan club office department

79. Sweet shop

80. Jazz hall

81. More cycle parking

82. Play area

83. Old peoples home

84. Leeds Utd. shop

85. Clean up operation

86. Footpath between houses at Crimble Corner is in need of cleaning up and stream at top is sometimes diverted to run down the footpath! Can stream be rebuilt so as to prevent this?

87. Ice rink

88. Rubbish dump

89. Water activity centre

90. Fishing tackle shop

91. Encourage other uses of retail premises. Propose a small business scheme. Discourage new house-building when suitable older properties abound.

92. General comment on pubs in Slaithwaite: more real ales please!

93. Remove commercial vehicle parking from residential areas. Some street-cleaning would be better than none!

94. Toxic waste ground

95. Lego world

96. Sainsburys

97. Toys R Us

98. Change from chemicals

99. Traffic calming measures and permit parking

100. The car park should be used as a green area

101. New lorry access

102. Netball

103. Make it bigger

104. Swimming baths

105. Shop

106. Clear up land. Maybe plant trees etc

107. Farm

108. Sewage works

109. Cowdung sheds

110. Shopping centre - offices units - playing fields

111. Sports facilities

112. Fishing tackle shop

Appendix II: Public Feedback

Once people had finished browsing and making comments they were asked a series of questions about how they felt after using the 'virtual' model. The following seven questions were asked:

I have:

The table below summarises the number of response to each question.

Table 1: Responses to Feedback Questions:
QuestionNo. of Responses
I have full control 4
I have some power to make changes11
I have voiced my opinion - but have no power to make changes16
I have been asked what I think23
I have been told what changes will happen5
I have no involvement in changes3
I have no opinion1

A final option allowing people to type further comments was also provided and their responses are listed below.


1. Generally very good but would welcome more opportunity for open discussion and debate

2. Very powerful way of getting people involved - much more effective than discussion without a physical focus

3. The concept appears to be an excellent method on involving the community and giving people a range of options to let them voice their opinion

4. This package is a great way of gaining additional info to complement the physical model. I'm pretty computer literate (& used to program in FORTRAN many years ago) but found this package rather sensitive to misuse - I managed to crash the system first go by over clicking the mouse.

5. Finding out what people want is only the beginning and does not need all this technology although it is fun. People need to have more real control over what happens in their areas. Local Planning Departments are only reactive. People need to be able to take the initiative to create developments and veto others. Local democracy is a joke and devalued.

6. I enjoyed using this system and found the staff very informative in making use of the system and in discussing possible other applications. Future models might include sound and video and could receive information in sound (audio) format. There are many voice packages now available at low cost which could be added. System was also a little slow for most casual users.

7. It would be useful if this scheme were maintained for a longer period so more people could be encouraged to participate. Perhaps by encouraging Colne Valley Trust Services to provide an Internet link on an open access machine for say 3 months. You'd be surprised how many people would respond to this.

8. This has been a really good day packed with people and a good mix of entertainment and planning. This could be used elsewhere.

9. A useful exercise in democracy with the added bonus of engendering community spirit thank you. p.s. if it does happen please ensure some of the budget goes on minimising impact on local community .in other words make the engineers and contractors talk to us . once again thank you for listening

10. It is good to be given the chance to have a say - lets hope some of the comments will make a difference

11. The village center has traffic problems. The roads are narrow but the road planners want to make them narrower! The result even more congestion and slow traffic = pollution. Lewisham road has listed buildings and is too narrow to be a lorry route. Station road is not a suitable diversion for HGVs it is too narrow at the ends. The solution would appear to be to improve public transport and strive to make the bus and train services more frequent and reliable. A new access road to the industrial estate is essential.

12. Make more public parks in

13. Reasonable system.

14. Good idea.

Appendix III: User Profiles
Age Structure Profile

Occupation Profile

9. Relevant Web Pages
Colne Valley Trust:

Kirklees Metropolitan Council:

VD-MiSP Project:

Virtual Slaithwaite:

Virtual Society? Programme:

10. Contact Information
Richard Kingston
School of Geography
University of Leeds

Tel: 0113-233-3342
Fax: 0113-233-3308