Had a chance to speak about the importance of communication in urban planning (and anything) to @Remmid's students at Waseda University yesterday. To prepare, I spent an hour at Miyashita Park in Shibuya, shooting photos from which to make a couple of graphical stories that told the story from a couple of perspectives.
Brief background on Miyashita Park: it was an underutilized, dank and dingy urban park that was "home" to a number of homeless people, as well as an historical meeting point for demonstrators marching in Shibuya. The discovery (very late in the game) that Nike had offered (and that Shibuya Ward had accepted) to renovate the park, building a skateboard park and climbing wall, was met with howls of outrage by some who believed a public space had been "sold" to big business.
The ward's communication failings were critical to the issue; the park, unsurprisingly, is great-looking, and though skateboarders and urban climbers are a small interest group, so were the homeless who were displaced during construction (to the pavement just outside the park, from the look of it). But the ward failed to disclose Nike's offer early, and to communicate to residents (and other interested parties) their rationale for accepting Nike's proposal, as well, perhaps, as opening their doors and ears to other proposals.
The park was built, but the ward (and Nike, as an easy target) faced a noisy campaign of opposition, including messages such as "Miyashita Park is going to disappear" (patently untrue).