Professor Karen Witten

Massey University

Two way listening in the contested realm of public space planning. 

Whose voices do we hear? Irate neighbours fighting higher density development. Business owners resisting street changes. Children’s voices. This presentation discusses examples of studies seeking voices seldom heard in built environment planning – those of neighbours not making headlines when confronted by new housing developments and of children in urban and suburban neighbourhoods. The mixed success of engaging children will be highlighted with reference to organisational advocacy, project timing, the openness of professionals and the need to develop the knowledge and capacity of children to participate and envisage what is possible.  

About Karen: Professor Karen Witten is a geographer and psychologist with research interests in neighbourhood design and how housing, transport, amenity access and social environments influence the everyday mobility, health and wellbeing of residents. Her work is interdisciplinary and has had a particular focus on the wellbeing of children and people with disabilities. She is a Professor of Public Health at the SHORE & Whariki Research Centre, Massey University, Auckland.