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.
WeGovNow is a three year research and innovation project focusing on civic participation in local government. It aims to change the relationship between citizens and local governments, transforming the citizen’s role from customer into partner. This is to be achieved with the development of a single community engagement platform, where citizens can interact with their governments and participate in local decision-making.
In 2012, the Big Lottery Fund in England invested £1 million in 150 neighbourhoods for its Big Local initiative. Northfleet, Kent, was one of the first 50 to be selected. The grant aimed to equip local communities with skills and tools to identify key areas and issues where action was reqiored in their area.
MyAccessible.EU is a three year research project funded by the European Commission. It aims to make cities’ built environment more accessible for disabled and older people by challenging social attitudes, raising awareness and delivering assistive mobile applications. These mobile applications will provide tools for collectively gathering and sharing information about accessibility of public spaces.