The multi-disciplinary nature of urban planning often prioritises outcomes in housing and infrastructure provision, with limited insight into how to foster or evaluate important characteristics of healthy, liveable spaces that urban planners endeavour to create; including sense of community, social cohesion, inclusion, safety and equity. As the rate and magnitude of change within communities worldwide will be exacerbated by trends such as globalisation, population growth and climate change, a comprehensive understanding of the social dimensions within communities across the socio-economic spectrum is important for urban planning research and practice. This paper presents two insights. First, how social capital contributes to best practice urban planning outcomes. Second, how social capital can be fostered by urban practitioners. The methodological strength of a mixed methods approach is emphasised, to provide an in-depth and contextualised account of the bonding, bridging and linking dimensions of social capital in a prevalent, but often ignored, middle class neighbourhood context. The results suggest aspects of community life such as sense of community, shared values and neighbourhood pride appear to be fluid constructs, suggesting that bonding, bridging and linking social capital develops in an integrated and interdependent manner, similar to systems thinking theory. The results also indicate how urban planners may measure and foster the growth of social capital at a neighbourhood scale, includinghow to develop opportunities to foster the role of youth and adults through collaborative governance approaches to local issues.
2015 AESOP Annual Congress: Definite Space - fuzzy responsibility, Prague, Czech Republic 13-16 July 2015