Just Space activity January 2021

Council estates website

The website Estate Watch : a resource for London’s communities undergoing estate regeneration was launched in June 2020 by London Tenants Federation and Just Space.  The purpose is to provide tenants and residents of social housing estates with independent facts and resources about the realities of demolition and possible alternatives.

Since the launch, 3 zoom meetings have been held, attended by residents from 20 different estates.  A bi-monthly newsletter is produced for which there is a mailing list (open to all) or you can access it on the website.

Funds have been obtained from the University of Leicester to support the maintenance and up-dating of the website and activities like the zoom meetings and newsletter.  These funds will last until May 2021 and LTF and Just Space are looking for resources to sustain estate watch after this date.  As a result, estate watch is being included in funding applications, we are in discussions with New Economics Foundation and we are encouraging residents to work together in collective actions, autonomous from LTF and Just Space.

*The story of Estate Watch was published in the Radical Housing Journal December 2020.

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

Partners: UCL, UEL, QMU, KCL, Brunel, Birkbeck, HEAR Equality, Westway23, Bengali East End Heritage Society, Community Centred Knowledge, Millbank Creative Works, Hayes Community Forum, Wards Corner Community Coalition, Thames Ward Community Project, Peckham Vision.

Collaborate! has grown out of work conducted by Just Space eg Just Map, and projects between Just Space and UCL. The priorities of Collaborate! are to enable greater levels of engagement and supportive activity between Universities and grassroots community groups and greater levels of activity between grassroots communities themselves.

Collaborate! has made a decision to establish as a not for profit company limited by guarantee and to begin operating.  Collaborate! needs a formal legal structure so that it can raise money and employ staff, avoid individual liability and make clear where accountability lies.   

The legal structure set up could be achieved in February 2021.  Over time a more complex model may be considered – Community Benefit Society or Community Interest Company.  Just Space may want to consider its own long term relationship with Collaborate!

Collective Community Action

Launched in January 2021, this is a group of active citizens, built environment professionals, community engagement specialists, educators, consultants and social entrepreneurs coming together to discuss, communicate, provoke and propose the changes needed to ensure communities are at the heart of urban change for the better.  Members include Soundings, Grosvenor, Ft’work architects, Manor House Development Trust, Creative Wick and 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. 

The brochure just launched has Just Space, Peckham Vision, Millbank Creative Works and Grand Union Alliance as good examples of collective community action. 

The launch manifesto says:

Ahead of the 2021 London Mayoral election, we want each candidate to commit to produce a Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement (MSCI).

Our next Mayor must seize this moment to recognise and commit to the value of local knowledge and self-determination, to build thriving communities, to heal divides in the capital, and to honour and build on the central role played by local communities during the pandemic.

www.collectivecommunityaction.co.uk

Planning Aid for London

This organisation has been re-launched, hosted by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) with a 3-year grant from the Trust for London. It exists to provide advice and support on planning issues to individuals and groups in London who cannot pay consultants. This will be a renewed and useful source of advice and support to members of Just Space.  

In addition to responding to individuals’ requests for help, the rejuvenated organisation plans to develop sustained relationships with a small number of grassroots organisations of people in need. Paid staff is small – Koen Rutten the key worker – and the main resource of the organisation will continue to be professionals volunteering their time. The eligibility criteria for individuals seeking advice are set out on Planning Aid for London’s website (below). These constraints will continue to apply and expectations have to be managed.

A re-vamped web site is about to be launched with full contact details and an extensive directory of links to guidance, leaflets and to other networks and advisory bodies.

The organisers have established a steering group with strong community representation: Just Space is represented by Michael Edwards so far but others could fill this seat in future; the group also includes Robin Brown representing the Grand Union Alliance, HEAR network represented by Christine Goodall, Latin Elephant, Hackney Quest and Architects Sans Frontières.

Community representatives have been very supportive and have encouraged the project to pay particular attention to Opportunity Areas and their surroundings.

Please would Just Space members help by contacting Michael Edwards about their experiences with Planning Aid and the planning topics on which they need specialist support.

Press release: https://www.tcpa.org.uk/News/press-release-boost-of-planning-aid-for-london-to-help-people-influence-planning

PAL web site (old version until replaced by new):  http://www.planningaidforlondon.org.uk

Next update June 2021