New London Architecture

What would your one proposal be to improve the involvement of communities in London?

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Eileen Conn, Peckham resident and co-ordinator of Peckham Vision, a citizens action group, responds:

'Public trust in the planning system has sunk to very low levels. Attempted remedies include earlier and more consultation, and better feedback. While important, they are not the solution.'

Trust is at such a low ebb because development is imposed from outside. Lines are drawn on maps, and everything within the line is ripe for redevelopment, usually meaning demolition and new build. Land prices and rents escalate, pushing out existing businesses and residents. The majority of planning approvals are for ‘unaffordable housing’, so they are unavailable to most people, and exclude many needing homes. Carbon emissions increase, contributing to climate change. This outside-in redevelopment is destructive and is not regeneration. Is it surprising it destroys trust?

That is why more consultation on outside-in ideas is self defeating. We need a reset: to an inside-out approach; to understanding that redevelopment is not regeneration; and to seeing community action groups as valuable gateways to the neighbourhood, not as derogatory ‘usual suspects’.

A simple procedural change can stimulate the reset: a requirement to include a published fact-based audit of the buildings, spaces, uses, users and their local social and economic value, agreed with all the stakeholders before development plans are drawn up.

To read the other respondents to the question, please see the latest issue of NLQ, out now here


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