Over the coming year a new London Plan is to be debated, scrutinised, revised and maybe approved. This is an opportunity for staff and students in any part of UCL to contribute to making this a more democratic, a more representative and a better-informed process. If you take part you will be in a position to exchange skills and knowledge with Londoners and their organisations as they get the hang of the new plans, prepare their own responses and alternatives and then make their case in public. Issues will include housing, traffic and transport, energy and environment, migration, alternative economic strategies, gentrification, access and disability….and so on. There are many ways to take part, starting NOW in October/November. See Actions… on the right.Why are we doing this?
London has a strong tradition of local civil society bodies but – in common with big cities everywhere – not much of a metropolitan-level structure to engage with city-wide planning issues. The participants in the present projects will be the groups and individuals already active and linked in the Just Space Network, plus new joiners. The demographic, class, ethnic/cultural range is very wide.
This engagement helps make democracy real through empowering groups (some deprived or disadvantaged, other scattered) to represent their needs at the level where crucial decisions are increasingly being taken (on housing, transport, economic development, environment, open space and so on). Progress so far has been greatly valued by participants, notably the gains made in the 2007 Examination In Public (EIP). A strengthened relationship with UCL will add a lot of value (and potential research support) to the representations and be a useful grounding for university staff and postgrads. Hitherto in the training of planners ‘engagement’ and ‘participation’ have been on the syllabus but not often in the learning experience.
This kind of work will certainly help to embed engagement as a more central dimension in the understanding and teaching of planning and urban studies. It will also strengthen the contact networks of UCL staff with external groups and organisations (sometimes referred to as community and voluntary sector bodies, NGOs).