Just Space activity July 2020 update

We last published a digest of all the activity of JustSpace in late September 2019 [ Link ]. This update shows funding sources, who leads from Just Space and which other Member groups and others are involved.

Council estates website

The website Estate Watch : a resource for London’s communities undergoing estate regeneration launched on 17 June 2020. 

 Jointly produced by London Tenants Federation and Just Space, this took 3 months to prepare. Two workers were hired and there were regular meetings.  The site disseminates the results of a 3 year research project led by Loretta Lees at Leicester University, and with LTF and JS as partners.  The plan had been to hold a series of sub-regional meetings, reaching out to affected estates, but this wasn’t possible because of Covid-19.

The research project held an event at City Hall in March at which Just Space spoke, just before lockdown.

Funds have been obtained to support the maintenance and up-dating of the website for the remainder of 2020, but more funds are needed for 2021.

Funding: University of Leicester (ESRC)

Lead for Just Space: Richard Lee

Freelance inputs from Santa Pedone and Adrian Glasspool

Partner: LTF

Fairville international exchange

Considerable liaison work with UCL’s Development Planning Unit (DPU) and international partners took place in March and April 2020 to produce a major 4-year funding bid to the EU on citizen science and the just city.  A decision is due in the autumn and, in any case, the partners want to work together on other applications.  Projects include documenting the Just Space story (with interviews), a study of facilitation as it operates in community groups and University engagement with communities and resources for a comprehensive social impact assessment in London.

No funding (but potential funding in 2021).

Lead: Richard Lee

Partner: Barbara Lipietz, Development Planning Unit, UCL

Collaborate! – (Previously known as Universities – Communities Knowledge Exchange)

The funded project ended in December 2019. [Download most recent report ] Time has since been devoted to completing its outcomes – a video film, strategic action plan and draft Charter of Principles.  Discussion is taking place with the Community and University steering groups to decide which of the actions can be taken forward this year and whether/ how Collaborate can incorporate to position itself for funding bids.

Funding:  small amount remains from 2019 grant (UCL)

Lead: Richard Lee

Freelance input from: Sona Mahtani

Partners: Sarah Bell, UCL Engineering Exchange, UEL, QMU, KCL, Brunel, HEAR Equality, Westway23, Bengali East End Heritage Society, Community Centred Knowledge, Hayes Community Forum, Wards Corner Community Coalition, Thames Ward Community Project, Peckham Vision.

Note: UCL Engineering Exchange has paused its innovative formal organising of specialist support to community groups until continued funding can be found. JS would continue to play a role in its operation.   

Social Impact Assessments (SIA)

The UCL Development Planning Unit (DPU) Masters course, which is co-produced with Just Space, has produced 3 handbooks (with Old Kent Road groups, Bengali East End Heritage Society and Camden Council) on how to do a social audit (SA).  A meeting has been held with Camden Council planning department to discuss mechanisms to integrate SIAs into their planning practice.  The relationship with Camden followed on from the Calthorpe Community Garden SIA.  There has been no activity with Calthorpe Community Garden since August 2019.  The SIA there was funded by UCL Estates and led by Richard Lee with freelancers Sona Mahtani and Karl Murray.

Inspired by social impact assessments, one DPU student is producing a report for community groups on how to use the Aarhus Convention to achieve stronger rights to information and participation.

Funding: UCL DPU 

Lead:  Richard Lee

Partners:  As above

Safeguarding the public voice in planning in the Covid era (planning network)

Lucy Rogers brought together London Forum, Friends of the Earth, CPRE with Just Space to publish a joint statement with 6 principles for a democratic input into planning decisions under exceptional regulations for Covid19.  This initiative has gained national attention.  London Forum has produced monitoring reports on the practices of London Boroughs under Covid.  A meeting has been held with Government officials. [Links to earlier blog posts.]

Not funded

Lead: Lucy Rogers.   Partners:  as above

Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement (MSCI) Planning network

Originally, a New London Architecture project, it is now a coming together of various individuals active in the built environment discussing the changes needed to ensure communities are at the heart of urban change for the better. These include Just Space members Hayes Community Forum and Peckham Vision. 

Two particular outputs are planned: a Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement (MSCI) that sets a strategic expectation for standards of effective and meaningful community involvement, and the provision of collaborative education and training programmes for both the public and professionals to help shape their city. Recognising that wider attention and support must first be secured, the group is to make a call to decision-makers for Collective Community Action that prepares the ground for the practical outputs of MSCI and education programme would follow later. This project is voluntarily supported.

Lead for Just Space: Robin Brown. Partner: Peckham Vision

Emerging new London Plan

At its meeting in January 2020, the Just Space Planning Network agreed to set up a working party to continue to conduct a thorough review of the treatment of equalities in the plan-making, examination and pre-publication processes of the emerging new London Plan. It authorised the seeking of legal advice and a QC was engaged on favourable terms from Just Space monetary reserves to give legal advice. But because of the remedial work the Mayor had been required to do by the Examination Panel of Inspectors, largely driven by the representations made by Just Space, it has been concluded that enough had been done by the GLA to satisfy the Panel and legislation on the Equalities Impact Assessment and the exercise of the Public Sector Equality Duty up to and including the Panel’s report. 

Members of Just Space remain concerned on the thrust and detail of the Plan (now the Intend-to-Publish Plan) and the Directions issued by the Secretary of State and some have made representations to the Mayor and London Assembly. The debate is continuing and the GLA is anyway not expecting to publish the new plan for at least two months after the Secretary of State replies to a letter from the Mayor written in April 2020.

Policy ideas and narratives arising from Covid-19 (Planning network / Collaborate)

Several people have come to Just Space offering volunteer work.  This has enabled the commissioning of a series of discussion papers giving new policy ideas. Next steps are being considered.

Not funded

Lead: Richard Lee

Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood Forum

Just Space (with support from LTF) has continued to assist the GCNF.  A very good result was achieved with the examination of the LLDC Local Plan: the Inspector fully backing the residents’ wishes to retain their community and avoid demolition and dense development.  However, alongside this the examination of the neighbourhood plan recommended the deletion of essential policies opposing demolition and identifying housing sites that would provide sensitive infill.

Funding: Locality (central Government money)

Lead: Richard Lee                  

Freelance inputs from: Marian Larragy

Partner: LTF

New Lucas Plan/ Climate Change Strategy/ Industrial Strategy

Discussions and a zoom meeting on socially useful production applied to the current crisis.  The main aim is to connect the agenda of community groups with trade unions and social movements.

Spoke at event in Coventry (14 March) on how to involve grassroots groups in the production of an alternative Climate Change Strategy for the city.

No funding in 2020

Lead: Richard Lee

Funding in 2021 from Sarah Bell UCL Eng Exchange and Myfanwy Taylor, Leeds University

Land Justice policy group

Considerable work had been done to prepare for an event Land and the Ecological Crisis  on 28 March, which had to be cancelled.  Planning meetings resumed in June and a series of 3 events will begin in Summer 2020. See events page. [ Earlier Post ]

Not funded (but the group has resources)

Lead: Richard Lee

Partners: Radical Housing Network, StART, Granville Community Kitchen 

Grand Union Alliance (GUA)

JS was commissioned back in Spring 2016 by the London Tenants Federation (LTF) to help LTF deliver UCL community-based research supporting the community network GUA in Old Oak Park Royal area (Mayoral Development Corporation OPDC). Although due to end in Spring 2018 when LTF’s involvement ended, the £15K received was stretched to February 2019 and has assisted London Plan work (on Opportunity Areas). Further support to GUA, particularly during the OPDC’s Local Plan EiP, was provided through an agreement worth £1.6K with UCL Geography. Since then, July 2019 onwards, JS inputs have continued voluntarily on a ‘care and maintenance’ basis whilst the OPDC prepares a ‘new approach’ to its draft Local Plan and delivery process following the Planning Inspector’s Interim Findings in September 2019 requiring substantial changes to the Plan.

Prior to ‘lockdown’, regular monthly public meetings continued in partnership with the Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum, whose reports can be seen at its website. Co-operation has extended to responding to the OPDC and HS2 and various planning applications.     

On looking for resources to sustain GUA, the OPDC has asked the GUA to make a proposal to OPDC to facilitate an OPDC-GUA continuing ‘dialogue’.  This could provide funds to hire a support worker plus ‘buying in’ of advice from JS but issues of independence need consideration. UCL Geography has awarded £2K towards the production of a Community Handbook on influencing large scale planning as informed by GUA experiences. For the forseeable future, JS would be the parent body for the GUA. 

Funding: UCL Geography (Jennifer Robinson)

Lead: Robin Brown

Partner: LTF

London Markets

[See earlier post on this major national research project ]

Funding: Leeds University  (Myfanwy Taylor and Sara Gonzalez)

Lead: Richard Lee

Partners: Saif Osmani (Friends of Queens Market ) and Mama D (Community Centred Knowledge)

Just Space Economy and Planning Group

The group continues to maintain contact and share experience across London, and to attend the Economics Round Table convened by GLA Economics. Not funded, but with some support through UCL academics and students

Leads: Michael Edwards, Ilinca Diaconescu

UCL (Bartlett School of Planning) Neighbourhood Planning & Community Engagement Programme 2019-20

Most of this programme, funded by an award from UCL Bartlett School of Planning, expected to be for the 2019-2020 academic year £6.6K, is intended to give students real life experiences of the issues faced by local communities. One part is delivered through a planning course ‘Collaborative City Planning Strategies’, which attracted 48 students. A Just Space nominated tutor embedded in the course focused on the ‘Future of High Streets’ from a community perspective.  

Another larger part enabled students to be mentored by Just Space and community tutors on a variety of socially useful activities. These included evaluating outputs from the draft London Plan EiP – transcribing and analysing recordings of sessions to inform further Just Space policy positions— and assisting the Grand Union Alliance, Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum, Thames Ward Community Project in Barking Riverside OA and Save Hackney Central Campaign – on various aspects of neighbourhood planning, community organising, and major site development analysis. Some local group costs such as venue hire were also eligible for reimbursement from the UCL grant. 

This programme also enables Just Space to contribute to progressing diverse activities promoting community collaborations with UCL and wider academia.

Funding: UCL Bartlett School of Planning

Lead: Michael Edwards

Reclaim our Spaces

[Earlier post] No activity in 2020 , but links with Collaborate

Not funded      Partner: The Ubele Initiative

Lead: Richard Lee

European Action Coalition for Rights to Housing and the City (EAC)

Just Space were among founders of this network but play a rather minimal role in it now, not much more than sharing links from its web site HousingNotProfit.org on our Twitter and on Pat’s Facebook. Next project to share national / city data and strategies on social housing needs volunteer inputs from London. 

Leads:  Pat Turnbull and Michael Edwards

Just Space web site, Twitter, FaceBook

The web site JustSpace.org.uk mainly supports the London Plan activities of Just Space because other groups choose not to contribute content, though this could change. It has between 700 and 1000 visitors per month. The Twitter account @JustSpace7 has 3,700 followers including many London groups and some international interested people and networks. It is very active and helps London groups and campaigns keep in touch with each other and with policy changes. Facebook, by contrast, was set up for us by a student volunteer and is dormant, awaiting people to run it. 

Leads: Michael Edwards with some inputs from Lucy Rogers