Touring Walk around Mainway with its Residents

Walking as a way to get to know first-hand sociocultural complexities of urban areas

On the 6th of August 2020, we run the first event: a walk around Mainway to explore with 30 residents (in three toured walks: morning, afternoon, and evening) their personal experience of living in Mainway. Walking became the way to engage in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. This also gave us the opportunity to experience first-hand the outdoors and some indoors spaces that shape Mainway. The residents picked the stops and shared their personal stories with us. During each walk, residents stopped us to share their memories, point out social issues, and highlight things to change. Soon enough the residents let us know that the area suffers from social problems associated with drug and alcohol use/consumption.

At the beginning of each walk, the residents discussed with representatives from Lancaster City Council about the whole redevelopment. Some residents expressed their scepticism about the whole engagement process. One of them shared a belief that Lancaster City Council has already a redevelopment plan with less social homes and an increment of private houses. This perspective was in the heads of some residents and unfolded our first challenge, on building trust among the residents. Additionally, some residents expressed that sometimes they need to share communal spaces or live door to door with dangerous people. They proposed to set up a tenant’s association as a way to enhance communications. In general, we found out that residents feel stressed and uncomfortable with the idea of being moved out if the redevelopment implies turning the existing buildings down. As one of the residents said:

“The main thing is that say we all have to get out. That is going to be a problem surely.”

The walk also allowed us to begin to grasp some visions for the future redevelopment, as another resident said:

“If everyone has houses with own space, own garden and maybe some blocks of flats that are not above 4 floors, so we don’t have tower blocks anymore. So, we can get out on to balconies and enjoy living here rather than feeling like we are just going to sleep in a box.”