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Engaging citizens through media

The new footbridge over the River Aire, designed by the citizens of Castleford as past of Channel 4 programme ‘Big Town Plan’. Image courtesy of Stephen Bowler.

Direct media engagement in processes of social innovation is rarer, but there are some examples. The UK TV station Channel 4 worked in Castleford engaging local residents in an experiment in urban redesign. Citizens were teamed up with designers, architects and engineers to decide on regeneration priorities for Castleford. They were divided up into small working groups and tasked with tackling one issue or area. Projects included the creation of a new footbridge over the River Aire, a gallery in the town centre, a play forest in Cutsyke, a new village green and a new underpass into the town’s shopping area. The Castleford Project is an excellent example of the power of television to lead to sustainable social change.