A participatory process is a sequence of participatory activities (e.g. first filling out a survey, then making proposals, discussing them in face-to-face or virtual meetings, and finally prioritizing them) with the aim of defining and making a decision on a specific topic.
Examples of participatory processes are: a process of electing committee members (where candidatures are first presented, then debated and finally a candidacy is chosen), participatory budgets (where proposals are made, valued economically and voted on with the money available), a strategic planning process, the collaborative drafting of a regulation or norm, the design of an urban space or the production of a public policy plan.
HOD was the last opportunity for people to see these historic buildings before the first phase of building works start. The buildings are not usually open to the public. No. 170/171 was opened every day for ten days to allow the public to come and look around, find out more about the buildings, share their own memories and ideas. The project was managed and facilitated by two researchers from Newcastle University. The plans for all three buildings and the wider Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) (an Historic England and Sunderland Council initiative to restore the historic high street area) were displayed to inform people about what is planned and to find out what they thought. Although this was not in any way a formal consultation for the HAZ, it was an opportunity for people to find out more about it and how to get involved.
Through the ongoing engagement work with the community, it has been established that these buildings have local importance. Many people have come forward with memories and connections to these buildings, mostly of the middle building, which ran as a hardware store for three generations. HOD offered an opportunity to record some of those stories so they can become part of the future of the buildings.