Collaborative Town Centre Health Check Reports
In early 2021, members of Cork City Council’s Conservation Office and Social Inclusion team along with Ali Harvey, founding Co-Ordinator of the Heritage Council’s CTCHC Programme, approached Jeanette Fitzsimons in UCC’s Centre for Planning Education & Research Centre to undertake two Collaborative Town Centre Health Check (CTCHC) reports for Blarney and Tower. Blarney and Tower had just become part of Cork City Council’s jurisdiction following the City Council boundary extension in 2019. The CTCHC projects were funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development as Town and Village Grants, which are a part of Project Ireland 2040.
The reports were officially launched by Minister Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform in May 2023 at UCC. The stakeholders and community groups warmly welcomed the projects and will use them in the future for funding applications and further studies.
Following on from the CTCHC projects, Jeanette was successful in undertaking a stage two project – an urban design and mobility report for the neighbouring town of Tower.
The new partnerships that were forged through this CTCHC data-creation process have been hugely rewarding, helping to generate a collective place-making movement within all the partners, which is fundamental to empowering climate action by local communities. As the reports required the application of Jeanette's expertise, the projects were supported by UCC Consulting.
The projects provided an ideal opportunity for the first year students on UCC's Master’s in Planning and Sustainable Development (MPlan) programme to undertake a real life project, which included data collection, surveys in the two towns, virtual community engagement and report writing. This cohort of students had been learning behind screens and from home during the Covid pandemic and the follow-on report allowed for involvement in the preparation and planning of these reports, including in site visits, online engagement and idea generation. This further added to the student's work experience as they learned how ideas generated at the initial stage can be transformed into potential projects in the second stage.
This provided an ideal opportunity for a rich learning experience for the students under the guidance and supervision of Jeannette, that they could include on their CVs, and many have said that they were often asked about the projects in graduate job interviews after their studies. The new partnerships that were forged through this CTCHC data-creation process have been hugely rewarding, helping generate a collective place-making movement within all the partners, which is fundamental to empowering climate action by local communities. As the reports required the application of Jeanette's expertise both projects were supported by UCC Consulting.
Speaking about the support of UCC Consulting throughout the project, Jeanette Fitzsimons commented: “Having UCC Consulting on-board on these three projects was very valuable as they undertook the contract negotiations with the client and streamlined the processes. This allowed me to focus more on the consultancy itself, ensuring that my MPlan students were availing of a rich learning experience while building strong relationships with the project stakeholders.”
More information about the CTCHC project can be found here.
Jeanette Fitzsimons is a lecturer in UCC’s Centre for Planning Education & Research, whose flagship programme is the professionally accredited Masters in Planning and Sustainable Development (MPlan). Jeanette has a background in professional practice, having worked as a planner and urban designer in Ireland and New Zealand before joining UCC. Much of her teaching and research focuses on planning practice, including community-engaged learning, where students undertake research and engagement with community groups and other stakeholders. An established relationship with a number of stakeholders has developed through these projects.
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