This project is co-directed by Nick Gant (UOB) and Zoe Ganderton of Action in Rural Sussex and in association with the East Sussex County Records Office and was funded in 2011 by the Gulbenkian Foundation. Future Village tested a process of inter-generational community participation in sustainable development and neighbourhood planning, through a methodology that required old and young community members to ‘look back’ 50 years at their community and look ahead 50 years. Gant (with Ganderton) engaged community members in a process of using online tools, phone apps and software tools to help community members collaboratively create recognisable and identifiable ‘visions’ of their future 2061. The process enabled ‘hard to reach’ members of the community to apply their local knowledge of social, economic and environmental issues and opportunities in the neighbourhood to develop ‘meaningful’ and communally authenticated proposals for future development.
The project process was published on the Community21 platform and helped establish new practice and policy for community planning across the network of community engagement practices and regional design statement development. The project and findings were presented at the International Conference ‘Making the Invisible Visible’ (2011), at the Rural Commission (2011), The Sussex Neighbourhood Planning Symposium and The UK and Ireland Neighbourhood Planning Conference (2012). The project aims to develop an online toolkit to enable communities to envision their community-led design statements and neighbourhood plans.