Space to participate : children’s rights and the Scottish town planning system
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Children are often excluded or marginalised in public space, but it is increasingly recognised that this denies them certain rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). In particular, a child’s right to be heard in matters that affect them (Article 12), and the right to play, rest, leisure and access to cultural life (Article 31). The UK ratified this convention in 1991, but it has not yet fed through into the range of policy measure that may affect children, and amongst these is the town planning system in Scotland. This research examines what children’s rights mean for the town planning system, and how it can move towards a child-rights informed practice, focusing on middle childhood (ages 6-12). It takes a rights-based framework to conduct critical ethnographic participatory action research. This involves a live project around a local park restoration with children aged 9-12; interviews with professionals; and critical discourse analysis of policy. It finds that children in middle childhood are capable of participating in planning in a number of ways, but that planning research and practise are not well-placed, or supported at present, to do so. By bringing insights from other disciplines, empirical work, and analysis, the thesis ends by suggesting ways to make the participation of children in place and process more achievable in Scotland.