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.
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.
D-NOSES is a three-year EU funded research project which aims to provide a solution to the largely neglected issue of odour pollution, changing the traditional top-down approach for a bottom-up one. The lack of regulation from authorities around odour pollution is mainly due to it being difficult to reliably measure and the potential solutions being costly to implement.
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.