The UK is experiencing a housing crisis. Unprecedented demand and soaring prices have seen housing waiting lists multiply. This is felt particularly sharply in London, where more than 380,000 people are currently on the council house waiting list, and the average house price is over £500,000. Given these conditions, London boroughs have substantial housing targets to meet in the next few decades.
In the context of regeneration and building new homes, it is widely recognised that community consultation and involvement must play a key role throughout planning and development. Genuine community engagement is more cost-effective, and grants easier long-term management and commercial viability for projects.
Mapping for Change (MfC) have developed a consultation mechanism that facilitates open and transparent dialogue between all the stakeholders involved in any regeneration or development project, which combines ICT technologies with more traditional face-to-face engagement. Our experience is that mapping is a powerful way to build engagement within and achieve changes for communities. Visually representing information can help to draw new links and ideas, as well as build consensus. By using both digital and paper-based maps, residents, irrespective of their digital literacy, are able to participate in decision making processes.
In early 2015, Southwark Council commissioned Mapping for Change to build an online Community Map to aid and support the work of the Council, in its pledge to build 11,000 new homes over the next thirty years.
We designed and built an interactive mapping platform to fulfil this requirement. Southwark New Homes will enable residents to help the Council identify where new homes should be built, comment on proposed sites, and participate in the decision-making processes throughout the programme.
Science in the City is a project that is being carried out with residents in the Barbican and Mansell Street, in the City of London. Residents are using low-tech tools to measure Nitrogen Dioxide and particulates.
Mapping for Change produced a Climate and Community Action Map, to inform people about initiatives happening in their local area. As there are thousands of organisations and projects that could be displayed, there is no one organisation that has a comprehensive list so any mapping will need to rely on local people’s knowledge and readiness to add their work to the map.
In 2009, Mapping for Change supported communities across London to measure and map local air quality. Use of a ‘citizen science’ approach meant local residents in seven locations were able to collect data, then see the real results of their monitoring activities, and subsequently embark on a campaign to see the serious results addressed.