Making Public Space More Public : The use of differentiated maintenance in the public space of Nijmegen

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Many problems in the public realm are created by a lack of understanding of the user of the space. The intended research focuses on the use and perception of public space connected to the concept of differentiated maintenance. Does differentiated maintenance contribute to a better functioning public space, when people are involved in the process of design and maintenance of public space. The research will have one main research question which is: In what way the ideas and wishes of inhabitants about public space can be implemented in the maintenance of public space; and what role the concept of differentiated maintenance can contribute to that process of participatory maintenance? With three sub questions: In what way mental maps can be used to evaluate public space with the residents and other users? Which characteristics of a public space are important for users, which parts of the public space are valued higher and which lower? What are the revenues of differentiated maintenance in public space? The answers to these questions are found through practical implementation of differentiated maintenance in Nijmegen. The research is a way to use differentiated maintenance in more places in the Netherlands. The research starts with the emphasis on the importance of people in the policy making in public spaces. In the last years the public becomes more involved with work the municipality used to do for them. This happens because people want more responsibility and municipalities are willing to hand over some tasks, this also can save money, the two developments strengthen each other. During the research is concluded that mental maps are a decent way to collect people’s opinion. The research is built around the use of mental maps. On the maps people draw their perception of their neighbourhood. The way these maps can be translated to actual policies is explained in this research. When this is known it will be possible to implement the use of mental maps in other cases, where spatial policies have to be adjusted to the opinion of the people. From these maps the most important characteristics are derived. The green environment in different neighbourhood is valued highly in all different neighbourhoods. In neighbourhoods with a lot of green areas the appreciation of green is even more, neighbourhoods like in ‘t Acker and Oosterhout. The two neighbourhoods in the city centre show a high appreciation for the commercial facilities, in this area are a lot of these facilities. Further the old buildings in city centre are valued positive; people like to wander around the old streets and buildings in the city centre. In general, the natural environment, the built environment and the commercial facilities are most appreciated in the different neighbourhoods. This indicates the importance of the physical shape of public space and exact functions of it. The different important characteristics and points of interest are gathered and differentiated after identification of the places. The particular revenue of this measure is very interesting to know for various parties, like the municipalities that are willing to use it. When people get the opportunity to display their view on their neighbourhood it is possible to save money as municipality. In general, twenty per cent of the current spent money can be saved. When municipalities will focus on the places people value the most, these are the places where measures in maintenance have the most effect on people’s perception; the positive effect on these places are bigger than the negative effect on other places. In this way differentiated maintenance can save money and can increase contentment of inhabitants.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen