Recently, I had a couple of opportunities to attend public consultations for the project I’m currently working on. It is a master-planning project for some developments of housing and some other public facilities in a new town developed in the 1950’s. Same as we do in Japan, the public consultations are organised in order to explain the schemes and to listen to people in the area. They were organised by our client and a developing consultant, and the role of our practice was to present the proposals.
It was actually very tough! And at the same time, it was really interesting and even exciting. I was just doing some supporting works but it was really a good experience. There were some, and quite many at one consultation, very very vocal people. It’s just the same in Japan! The meeting was just endless and impossible.
The people here seemed to express more personal opinions than those in Japan. And they even seemed literally more conservative – majority were keen to maintain the existing living environment. I’ve also realised people here are more concerned about privacy than we Japanese generally are. Some neighbours raised overlooking issues to their bedrooms or even to their gardens. I had already known overlooking issues are very important in this country but it was more than that I had expected. Those opinions were understandable to some extent but seemed a bit too greedy.
I’m still not a project architect for this project, however, I am at least entrusted with most of the planning works of it. I’m really enjoying it and realising how different the urban planning principles are in the UK and in Japan. Particularly, the feedbacks from these public consultations are really important. I’m sure this experience will help a lot to my future work in Japan!