PhD RESEARCH Sept. 2000 - July 2004


Joanne Tippett



John Handley, Groundwork Professor of Land Reclamation

Joe Ravetz, Director of Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology

School of Planning and Landscape, University of Manchester, UK


Walter Menzies, Executive Director - Mersey Basin Campaign



External: Prof. Tim O'Riordan
University of East Anglia and UK Sustainable Development Commissioner

Internal: Prof. Chris Wood, University of Manchester, UK

Research Sponsor Economic and Social Research Council - Case Award with the Mersey Basin Campaign

To download the PhD you will require acrobat reader. It has been split into chapters to reduce download time.

Table of contents and preface

Chapter One - Introduction

Chapter Two - Literature Review, an Overview of Integrated Catchment Management

Chapter Three - Methodology

Chapter Four - Challenges of the Water Framework Directive for Participatory Planning

Chapter Five - Participatory Planning Methodologies and Ecologically Informed Design

Chapter Six - Results of the Process, Irk Valley and Moston Vale

(note the figures 6.25, 6.26 and 6.27 - the plans produced during the process can be downloaded here)

Chapter Seven - Analysis of Participants' Experience

Chapter Eight - Meeting the Challenges of the WFD

Chapter Nine - Discussion and Recommendations

Chapter Ten - Conclusion

References and appendices

The European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) offers an unparalleled opportunity for improving river basin management, whilst moving towards a sustainable future. Sustainable management of water requires integrated planning, recognising interconnections between systems operating at different levels of scale. This is an endeavour in which systems thinking could provide useful tools. Systems orientated models can facilitate work across levels of scale, enhance dialogue, and improve perception of the 'whole picture'.
This research examined the emerging role of active participation in 'planning for sustainability' in the context of river catchments. The DesignWays process, developed by the author, was tested in the context of regeneration in the Mersey Basin of NorthWest England. The development of DesignWays was a conscious attempt to embed 'new paradigm' living systems metaphors into a participatory protocol for ecologically informed design.
The research tested DesignWays at the landscape and site levels of scale, using an action-based, interpretive methodology. Challenges posed by the WFD were identified, from which criteria were developed for assessing this approach. Interviews were conducted with participants before and after the process, providing data about changes in understanding resulting from their experience. Interviews with key decision makers in the NorthWest were used to test and develop the findings.
This research had two major outcomes: a contribution to theory through an in-depth exploration of the theoretical basis of participatory, ecologically informed design, as exemplified by the DesignWays approach; and a contribution to practice through investigating its potential to meet key challenges of the WFD. This research points to the importance of understanding participatory planning as a societal process, aiming to make the process engaging and meaningful. It explored the value of integrating participatory planning and education for sustainability. It demonstrated the benefits of an iterative process in which planning at the landscape level of scale informs, and is informed by, work at the site level. It has shown that an approach consistent with a living systems paradigm can contribute to the development of more integrated, ecologically sound solutions.

Reference for this work:

Tippett, J. (2004). A participatory protocol for ecologically informed design within river catchments. School of Planning and Landscape. Manchester, University of Manchester: unpublished Ph.D. thesis, 537 pgs.,

Related work

Masters Research into the Mersey Basin Campaign

Report from Action Research with the Irk Valley Project