Arguments for a Co-production Approach to Community Flood Protection

With more intense rainfall and sea level rises predicted, increasing numbers of people across the UK are vulnerable to flood events. The government has pledged more funding for flood infrastructure planning, design and management. However schemes tend to focus on technical solutions, with the social impact, including needs and concerns of the local community, seen as secondary. Based on a detailed examination of three case studies in England, this paper identifies the mechanisms through which current processes restrict industry professionals from considering and incorporating the social perspective, often in spite of seemingly effective community engagement. The paper argues for an approach that incorporates social concerns alongside the technical. Rather than ‘community engagement’, it is argued that ‘co-production’, in which lay communities work alongside technical experts in the design of flood risk alleviation schemes, would enable both a more socially acceptable, and also a more technically successful, final outcome.

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