Celebrating UCL student work with Just Space

June 11, 2022

June 8 2022 zoom meeting with UCL staff and students and some community group representatives.

Watch the recording of the meeting here.


Links mentioned during the meeting in chat or slides

Link to short DPU News post on Covid Sound Map project: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development/news/2021/mar/msc-udp-and-just-space-audio-map-launched-tool-amplify-diverse-community-voices-london

          Link to Audio Map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=107p1NdUf6HN9u7qQSCnTLhWWLMtAPLdT&ll=51.54620490000001%2C-0.0729375999999915&z=12

Bartlett Network of Engagement is here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/research/impact-bartlett/bartlett-community-engagers and the email is  publicengagement@ucl.ac.uk

See here on JS submission to London Assembly on OAs and Mayoral Development Corporations: https://justspace.org.uk/MDC

Celebrating work with Just Space 21/22

May 19, 2022

UCL staff and students are invited on 8 June 1100-1300h BST to join us for a virtual celebration of Bartlett work with community & activist groups in London’s Just Space network. This activity has been supported over the years by successive departmental heads in Bartlett Planning and from time to time by grants and awards from UCL Public Engagement. This is a change of date.

It has been very challenging during the pandemic for communities to maintain their activity and for us to maintain the long tradition of UCL students and staff working with them to support their actions in neighbourhoods and London-wide.

This year groups from the Bartlett School of Planning have been working in Barking and Dagenham where the Thames Ward Community Project is supporting residents of council estates and new “affordable” and market housing in the biggest Opportunity Area programme in London. Others have been supporting the MOPS campaign in central Hackney, exploring alternatives to a purely commercial redevelopment of Tescos. A few have also been helping Just Space groups prepare evidence for the London Assembly Planning Committee on Opportunity Areas and on Mayoral Development Corporations

And when Covid-19 hit, community organisations were unable to meet face to face and the large cluster of such groups in the Just Space network resolved to cooperate through virtual meetings to elaborate a set of proposals and demands from the grass roots which respond to the emergency. The process was managed through a large number of small zoom workshops in which UCL student volunteers played important roles in briefing, recording and synthesising, mentored by the Just Space co-ordinator. Some DPU and Urban Studies students have also contributed valuably. Bartlett Hon Prof Michael Edwards was involved in the final editorial stage and other Bartlett staff at various points in generating the Community-led Recovery Plan for London.

It’s a great innovation in method and a remarkable document in content, capturing some of the injuries and inequalities experienced by contributors, but also solidarity and creative energy.  You can read it at JustSpace.org.uk/recovery where you will also find an annex substantially due to our student Sion Lee.

What we are arranging is for some of the students and community people to present what they did and follow with a panel discussion with reactions from UCL guests, including the office of the Pro-Provost (london), UCL Public Engagement people and from students and staff.

The event is, of course, free. A zoom link will be sent to those who register at eventbrite:

While this particular event is aimed at UCL people before some disappear for a summer break or for research, other meetings centred on the Recovery Plan will be held, both here and at JustSpace, aimed at discussion among community and wider participants. Follow @JustSpace7 on Twitter or look at JustSpace.org.uk/events

Earlier posts on this site contain links to the content of some of these projects.

New plans in Hackney, Barking and for London’s recovery

February 16, 2022

16 February 2022 Update

Bartlett students have been playing a crucial role in the production of the 

JustSpace Recovery Plan for London – an innovation in plan-making by the network of community groups through the Covid-19 pandemic. Unable to have face to face meetings, the network has put together a completely new kind of planning document through a large number of small workshops, some thematic, some cross-cutting, and all facilitated with support from volunteer Planning School students. This work draws on earlier interview work by students at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) in 2020 which is now written up in the Faculty magazine, along with audio extracts.
The Just Space work began in 2020 and continues through to the publication of the Recovery Plan in March 2022 and after that to implementation and dissemination. In the first of a series of meetings in the School of Planning, six students presented summaries of their work and reflections on the process in January and more such meetings will follow, with details posted here. The thrust of the Recovery Plan is that London planning has to change from being led by developer interests to being led by the concept of the caring city to rectify the major injustices caused or revealed by the pandemic while also addressing the crises of climate and nature. Enquiries to m.edwards@ucl.ac.uk or follow @JustSpace7 on twitter.

Other Planning students are supporting community activity in Barking Riverside Opportunity Area where an important community development project is under way to help empower long-standing residents of two council estates, now being joined by new residents in one of London’s largest new housing developments. This is located on reclaimed industrial riverside and being developed by the GLA and a housing association L&Q in a joint company. Previous posts on this blog have some material from past years and some of this year’s students are reporting on their work shortly: helping to establish a nature reserve and evaluating some housing schemes.

A third group are preparing alternative plans for Hackney Central where the council’s agreement with a development company lapses at the end of March and a great debate is under way about how the site of a big Tesco and its car park should be used, triggered by a very effective community group. This activity got under way in late 2021 and is now being pursued by an entire module;

Others again have been helping Just Space groups across London marshall their experiences to feed in to a scrutiny by the London Assembly. The product of their work will be submitted to the Planning and Regeneration comittee of the Assembly in late February.

Supporting community planning 21/22

October 19, 2021

19 October 2021: This post is announcing meetings for students wanting to hear about the work of the Just Space network of London community and activist groups and/or who may want to volunteer to help in the coming session.

Our first meeting of the session will be on Wednesday 3 November 2021 on zoom. Please register if you plan to attend. Use a UCL email to register, please. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/just-space-volunteering-opportunities-2021-tickets-194663713407

This meeting will offer a short overview of the activity of Just Space and its member organisations since its foundation, 14 years ago. It will then outline the topics on which there may be scope for us (staff and students) to make inputs in the coming months. Some of the opportunities arise now and would benefit from some immediate uptake; others are not yet confirmed or ready. The meeting on 3 November will span all these briefly. Later sessions will expand on individual options.

Just Space is re-working the Community-led plan for London (2016) for the new situation of the pandemic and (eventually) a post-Covid recovery and for a future in which justice, global warming and ecological damage are centre stage. It will be a Recovery Plan. Bartlett students have made substantial contributions to this work, through research, drafting briefings and supporting small-group community workshops. This has been an innovative process, aiming to mobilise large numbers of community voices despite not being able to hold any face-to-face meetings. There will be further opportunities for us (staff and students) to support this process in practical ways as the Recovery Plan approaches publication and is discussed and presented across the city (virtually, and perhaps later in physical events).

2. There will be opportunities this session for students to continue the work we have been doing with the Thames Ward Community Partnership (TWCP) in Barking Riverside, one of the biggest Opportunity Areas in the London Plan where many thousands of new homes are being added to a partly de-industrialised working class area with distinct council estates and a lot of reclaimed land. Those interested are invited to join an on-site meeting in Barking on Friday afternoon 5 November. Further details and sign-up at . Topics on which we hope to work and full info on the meeting are on this page

3. We may also be able to give further support to action groups in Hackney, principally the MOPS campaign (Morning Lane People’s Space) which has been campaigning for the redevelopment of a large Tesco and its car park to meet identified local housing needs. Hackney Council has just acknowledged that an earlier, unbuilt, scheme which MOPS has been opposing may now be dead so opportunities to make progress may now exist. Parallel battles to defend local working class people’s needs in the development of Dalston are also under way. Watch this space.

4. Just Space has long been very critical of the Opportunity Areas, the main implementation mechanism of the London Plans: they are initiated without any transparent (let alone democratic) process or criteria; their employment and housing targets are typically high and adopted without much scrutiny; they often trample over and ignore the interests of existing populations and businesses in their implementation. The Mayor’s office may now be open to a review of experience so far and the London Assembly will be scrutinising them soon. Just Space plans to intervene and we shall be able to help marshal evidence.

5. Implementation of the Recovery Plan. The Just Space Recovery Plan (that’s a provisional working title) contains many innovative ideas but more work will be needed to think through how each might best be implemented in a bottom-up way, co-produced by citizens and public bodies. Scouring international sources on community review panels, assemblies, a wildlife charter, grassroots initiatives on heating systems, fuel and energy issues, care networks…

6. People’s Plans. There is a national research project under way, documenting the history of popular plans. So far London seems to be represented only by some 20th century classic events and Just Space hopes to be able to augment this with student help so that current and recent community initiatives in building alternatives are better represented.

And, as we said before, people are welcome to these sessions even if they do not have time or intention to volunteer.

2021/2 prospects for UCL student work with Just Space

October 6, 2021

For some years, UCL students have been able to collaborate with community groups in London, contributing research or other work to the campaigns of local activist organisations or to the London-wide activities of the unique grassroots network Just Space. Earlier posts on this site report this activity.

The Covid19 Pandemic has of course changed the London situation and the ways in which action groups could pursue their purposes and the ways we maintain our support while observing public health principles. Covid has dramatically shown up the severity of housing and employment inequality in London and actually worsened conditions in many respects – while generating much solidarity activity among citizens. The Pandemic continues and will be influencing how community groups and UCL will be able to operate. However we have learned a lot about how to work this last year and intend to continue the collaborations in the coming session.

Later in October there will be the first of a number of (online) open briefing sessions aimed at UCL students interested in the Just Space network and/or keen to get involved. We hope that some of the planning students who took part last session (and are continuing in their roles now in some cases) will be available to say what they did. They actually played important roles in facilitating & supporting a distributed process in which small working groups of activists and community representatives have been generating a Community-led Recovery Plan for London.

Interested students will find useful background material in earlier posts below and on the Just Space web site. They are also welcome to make direct contact with BSP staff member Michael Edwards m.edwards@ucl.ac.uk who coordinates the collaboration.

New Plan…

March 3, 2021

22 March 2021. Confirming that the next meeting is tomorrow 23rd March at 1600h GMT/UTC. Details, booking and zoom link at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/just-space-bspucl-briefing-6-tickets-147600744801


3 March 2021 The next briefing in our series with Just Space will be on 10 March and focus on preparing community inputs to a new version of the community-led plan for London originated in 2016. The plan at Just Space is to produce a new document before the elections for the next Mayor of London and members of the London Assembly in May.

The briefing is from 1600h to 1800h GMT/UTC on 10 March via zoom. To reserve a place and get the zoom link please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/just-space-ucl-briefing-5-tickets-144209341021

A useful survey by Ivan Tosics of some cities’ experiments and innovations during the pandemic is at https://www.blog.urbact.eu/2021/01/urban-lessons-from-the-pandemic/ and an important paper on housing impacts appeared last year at Radical Housing Journal but their web site is broken just now so I’ll add the link later. Later: thanks to Daniel F for pointing out that the link is now working: https://radicalhousingjournal.org/2020/covid-19-and-housing-struggles

Later: the meeting was good, hearing 3 very good presentations from students. Next meeting fixed for Tuesday 23 March 1600h GMT/UTC
Today’s chat 10 March and M.Edwards economy notes are here:

Link to video recording (with robot transcript – beware) Passcode: !s&2Bq+L 

Queries and comments to Michael Edwards m.edwards [at] ucl.ac.uk.

Background, and for recordings of previous briefings: scroll down to earlier posts.


February 14, 2021

14+17 February 2021 The recording from our previous meeting, at which Richard Lee spoke about the Just Space project to prepare a community-led recovery plan for London, is now available at https://ucl.zoom.us/rec/share/-Cd1krYmYV5oMu-D84YgdFE8rkMA871eIq4QBmzROLZ_A2UMWw8LS4u_-56esXER.dPa5VrqOwnJ-3Kgm 
(disregard everything after 1 hour 12 minutes when Daniel and I went on chatting). You may need a zoom password or this Passcode to view the video: B2NEp6+2

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 17th February at 1600h GMT/UTC. Please sign on at Eventrbrite and you’ll get a zoom link nearer the time. We’ll have a general catchup on what people are doing, where they have progress to report, and then we expect to have a talk by Robin Brown & John Cox, both experienced Just Space people, on the fraught history of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, set up during the Boris Johnson mayoralty and struggling to achieve much. The link is https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/just-space-ucl-briefing-4-tickets-141604473793

Recording of the session is: https://ucl.zoom.us/rec/share/uTWBjgnkFFc2h473fOQOgRYvzImVFIHYlw7YkBSuWKY19kgswjoh5OQ-K0xb4Mdr.eUBqbss3wReFRS3U?startTime=1613577983000

Slides on Old Oak Park Royal and its development corporation are here and there is a briefing sheet with all the key dates here. The slides contain reading suggestions and video links.

In addition, Jennifer Robinson and Kattya Attuyer OPDC Capturing Value London Style is a download here

Next meeting probably on 10 March.

London recovery?

January 25, 2021

25 January 2021. Just Space plans to work, between now and the Assembly/Mayoral elections in May on a re-working of the Community-led plan for London (2016) for the new situation of the pandemic and (eventually) a post-Covid recovery and for a future in which global warming and ecological damage are centre stage. There will be opportunities for us (staff and students) to support this process in practical ways and in preparing and recording material.

This will be the main topic of the next of our briefing sessions on Wednesday 27th January 1600h-1800h GMT/UTC on zoom. The meeting is likely to start with short catch-ups on the work being done by small numbers of our students in support of the MOPS campaign in Central Hackney and the Thames Ward Community Partnership (TWCP) in Barking Riverside. After that the main focus will be on the London Plan issues.

And, as we said before, people are welcome to these sessions even if they do not have time or intention to volunteer.

To reserve a place go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/just-space-bsp-briefing-3-tickets-136698544025

For more background on Just Space and on the earlier briefing meetings (including recordings) on MOPS and TWCP just read on below – the earlier posts. Michael Edwards

PS (26 January) MOPS blog post just appeared today: https://www.actiononemptyhomes.org/blog/morning-lane-peoples-space-and-the-campaign-for-housing-to-meet-local-needs-in-hackney

28 January: some draft documents from Just Space relating to a recovery plan are here on another page, password protected because they may be changed before publication.

The recording of this week’s session is now available to view at https://ucl.zoom.us/rec/share/oBBlcTcGWQKZMkuSEtYY68yJoTqL0mV8xG0at0xNCc1TMnogdZaXjJ3YqfVO2xo7.L8Nerh7oGnDU2BYt  You may need Passcode: B2NEp6+2 to view it.

The next meeting in this series will. probably be 17 February at 1600h GMT/UTC

Queries and questions to Michael Edwards m.edwards at ucl.ac.uk

BSP activity with student volunteers 2020/21

November 20, 2020

BSP (The Bartlett School of Planning) has a long tradition of engagement with and support for grassroots campaigns and social movements in London. At present this mainly takes the form of collaborations with Just Space, a big network of community organisations. This collaboration is mostly in research on issues prioritised by community groups and in teaching/learning —some within formal modules of degrees and some through the volunteer, extra-curricular, activity of individual students and small groups. This is intended to give students real life experiences of the issues faced by local communities in one of the world’s most unequal cities.

Recent years have seen students assisting the Grand Union Alliance, Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum, Thames Ward Community Project in Barking Riverside and Save Hackney Central Campaign – on various aspects of neighbourhood planning, community organising, and major site development analysis.

Volunteer activity 2020-21

The Covid-19 pandemic has totally disrupted much of London’s life including our plans for this work; for the foreseeable future it is not going to be safely feasible for community groups to have their normal physical meetings of members, nor for us (students and staff) to visit them or walk their neighbourhoods, learning and gathering data. So what we have in mind for students interested in individual volunteering is a number of online zoom sessions at each of which there will be some briefing about aspects of London planning and a discussion led by a community activist with whom we have been working and plan to do further work in the coming months.

At these sessions we’ll apply our minds to thinking what contributions we could make while lockdown continues (and afterwards, if there is an afterwards). Much of the property development industry and much of the government apparatus continues to function through the pandemic so the need for community alertness and action is as crucial as ever.

Town centre: Hackney Central MOPS

The first of these meetings is 1400h-1600h on Wednesday 2 December which will focus on one of the devices for the intensification of development in the new London Plan: replacing single storey supermarkets and their car parks at well-connected points on the transport network with dense mixed use schemes, mainly housing. An instance is a scheme in Hackney Central to redevelop Tescos on Morning Lane. We’ll be meeting with Heather Mendick and Adam Forman from the local group which has come into existence to channel and discover local needs and demands there: MOPS (MOrning lane People’s Space).

NB MOPS are having their own online meeting on Saturday 28th November to report the results of an extensive online and face-to-face interview survey they have just completed. Link here if you would like to attend that.

Opportunity Areas: Barking Riverside Thames ward

A second meeting will focus on the major ‘Opportunity Areas’ in the London Plan where most of the growth is to be concentrated, and with a representative from Barking Riverside where we collaborate with and support the Thames Ward Community Project. This will be on 9 December at 1500h UTC/GMT.

Recording of the session (NB a later version may follow with transcript alongside) You may need a code to view this: Passcode: *54zL6j% 

Please do communicate with Michael Edwards on your ideas arising from either of these meetings, or about how you would like these events to develop in 2021.

What does “affordable” mean?

At both meetings questions were raised about definitions and significance of the jargon surrounding affordable housing policy discussions in London. A good, and up-to-date explanation of the terminology has been prepared by the London Tenants Federation.


Further meetings in this series will be held in 2021. Do bear in mind that participation in any or all of these events, or in work arising from them, does not form an official part of your degree and carries no marks or credit. You may, though, focus a dissertation or other assignment on your experience. Questions and suggestions welcome. Email m.edwards [at] ucl.ac.uk

Everyone planning to take part should first familiarise themselves with the short Protocol which we have developed with Just Space to help get the best from such collaborations and avoid pitfalls and disappointments.

A survey of the activities of Just Space up to July 2020 is to be found at

A report on UCL/JustSpace activity in recent years is at http://bit.ly/2L4LMy5 including a listing of publications arising from the work.

Collaboration in modules

Also involved in teaching with Just Space is Dr Pablo Sendra whose Civic Design CPD course and postgraduate module each year work with a Just Space group and whose research with Dr Daniel Fitzpatrick generated a handbook for social housing residents defending their estates [ free download ]. They are also starting a project developing an alternative plan with residents of the Alton Estate in Roehampton, challenging a ‘regeneration’ scheme proposed by Wandsworth Council..

UCL/Bartlett School of Planning

July 25, 2020

Update on activity 2019-20

Most of this programme of activity, funded by an award from UCL Bartlett School of Planning, 2019-2020 academic year worth about £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’ run by Elena Besussi with other tutors, 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.

Covid-19 inevitably posed great difficulties in 2020 for activist groups across London (and the world) and for students trying to work with them, and less was achieved this year than had been planned.

A survey of the activities of Just Space up to July 2020 is to be found at