A recovery plan for London

More than 60 community groups and campaigners contributed to the Just Space Recovery Plan, being published on Monday 4 April 2022. It calls for a radical change of course in London’s planning: less a developers’ city, more a city for its people.

The Just Space network was formed to bring together a diverse range of groups to participate in London planning, which is usually dominated by town planners and developers. During Covid19 the network created its own community-led Recovery Plan, a set of policies that is a call for action for a positively different post-pandemic London: people-centred rather than development-centred. The Plan aims to reverse the inequalities that the pandemic has brutally exposed. 

A Pluriversal Recovery Plan In keeping with Just Space principles of seeking consensus, great care was taken to record diverse and divergent positions through a series of workshop debates. Designed to minimise bias, this innovative approach used an empathic understanding of each other’s different knowledge and lived experiences, which was distilled into a collective vision and coherent set of policies. One workshop participant named the approach ‘pluriversal’.The document ranges from the personal to the collective, from the neighbourhood to the city-wide. The 44 policy positions converge on strong demands for 

●    A Caring City

A focus on the Care economy. London must take care of people and nature, the spaces and places they occupy. Caring for each other resonates with caring for the inherited building stock as opposed to demolition. 

●    Visibility & Influence For All

Coinciding with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the pandemic served to raise consciousness of systemic inequalities and the value of activism, linking with the principle of justice in the planning of the city. Policy proposals aim at resourcing diverse and bottom-up democratic structures to enable community organisations to become active agents of change.

●    A City Of Local Neighbourhoods

The pandemic experiences add meaning and urgency to our calls for a strong ‘Lifetime Neighbourhood’ approach across London so more of our needs can be met without travel, especially without driving. Importantly, many people and communities want to remain in place through all stages of life, not face displacement.

●    Priority For Climate And Nature

The urgency of the environmental crisis—not only climate change but our whole relationship with nature, buildings, food, transport. A crucial issue in transforming the environment is ‘just transition’.

A positive side of the pandemic was that Londoners looked after each other when it mattered, through solidarity, co-operation, mutual aid groups, food banks and local networks. People also discovered the value of green spaces and less pollution from road and air traffic. These strengths should be fostered in a London that cares about people and nature.

The Recovery Plan calls for action by community organisations as well as the Authorities. The way development takes place needs to change radically: planning and building can’t continue as the servant of a small minority of financial interests at the expense of existing communities and the things they value. 

Richard Lee, co-ordinator of Just Space said:
‘It is now more important than ever to ensure all voices are included in the future planning of London. This is a vital part of recovery.’ 

Wendy Davis of Rooms of Our Own said:
‘Under Covid, it has been the low-paid workers, the cleaners, the carers, the delivery drivers who have been absolutely vital to us. A definition of lockdown: the middle classes stay at home and the working classes bring things to them. The Covid lockdown has made us value the care workers, and now is the time to reward them.’

Michael Edwards Honorary Professor, the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL said:
‘What is needed is an emergency programme: something like post-war reconstruction. Special measures are called for and this is recognised by the many who say the future must be different from the past.’ 

DOWNLOAD the recovery plan: JustSpace.org.uk/recovery

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