Digesting / recording the EiP

After a very strenuous summer in which Just Space Network and its member organisations took part in many of the 30 days of hearings on the new Draft Replacement London Plan, we are now trying to crystallise our records and memories. Some UCL students are helping by generating texts from the audio record of proceedings and finally on 10 November we have some files to listen to… The story continues (to avoid duplication) on the Just Space Network web site. [ Switch to that here ]
This page (originally a record of a UCL meeting 18 October 2010) brings you up to date on what we were doing as at mid-November 2010.

That was an excellent meeting on 18 Oct and augurs well for the year. This note is designed to recap in enough detail for people who couldn’t attend.

1. Course credit. Most of the meeting was spent on the London Plan work. UCL students may wish to do this or other community-related work this session, either in addition to or within their study programmes. A note about the formats available for getting recognition for such work was circulated and is attached at the end of this post.

2. London Plan work so far.
Richard Lee, coordinator of the Just Space Network (JSN), explained that since 2006 a variety of London-wide and local campaign groups had come together to support each other and seek to find common ground on planning issues. In the 2007 London Plan revision the JSN had a strong presence in the Examination in Public (EiP) and ensured that a wide range of groups and interests were represented and heard. One valuable achievement had been to negotiate a “hot seat” at the hearings which could be occupied by a variety of speakers from a variety of groups on each topic.

In 2009 the new Mayor, Boris Johnson, had published for consultation a ‘completely new’ Draft Replacement London Plan (DRLP) and the JSN was very active in preparing critiques of the draft Plan, making submissions about it and then appearing at the hearings which occupied 30 days between June and October 2010. Students and staff at UCL, supported by a grant from UCL’s Public Engagement Unit, had contributed to this process, principally by…
• helping prepare summaries in plain language of the plan’s provisions
• contributing in two important preparatory meetings of the JSN
• researching topics and supporting groups in their critical evaluations and drafting of objections
• summarising the submissions made by JSN and its member groups
• in one case actually appearing to give evidence on behalf of JSN (on the adequacy of the Integrated Impact Assessment on day 1)
Most of this UCL support work is documented at https://ucljustspace.wordpress.com (this site)
The submissions made by the JSN are mostly available on http://justspace2010.wordpress.com (though it’s not up to date)
More links are contained in the next steps attachment below.

A writeup of the work in the form of a book chapter by Michael Edwards has been published (royalty going to the JSN funds) and can be downloaded: Do Londoners make their own plan? in K Scanlon and B Kochan (eds) London coping with austerity, LSE London Series, chapter 5. Eprint http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/20241/ The whole book will shortly be a free download at http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/LSELondon There’s also now a lot of stuff on his (my) blog http://michaeledwards.org.uk

3. London Plan: next steps
Richard and Michael then explained, after a good deal of discussion on the work so far, that the JSN would benefit a lot if the experience of the EiP—and especially the JSN contributions—were documented and students were invited to take part in this process in respect of about a dozen key topic areas. The proposal is that one or more students take on the job of listening to the audio recording of each discussion, transcribing the JSN contributions fully and summarising the other contributions. The resulting texts, and some summary / synthetic materials, would then be published as a report/book in which the student authors would get full credit. An additional stage of work which could enrich some or all of the topic reports would be for the student to interview the community group members who had taken part in the EiP to add their perspectives.

The scope envisaged for this work is outlined in another document, not an attachment here because it contains individuals’ names.  Email if you want a copy.

The timescale envisaged was that the transcribing work should be done in October/November; then there would be a JSN meeting in the first week of December at which the proposed interviews might be done. Then the aim would be to present/publish the results for a meeting in January of the Urban Salon – which is a London-wide monthly colloquium of unversity geography, planning and architecture people. http://www.theurbansalon.org/ [Severe delays caused by the GLA in releasing the sound recordings has lost us some weeks, however. ]

Many of those present signed up, either tentatively or firmly, to do a chunk of this work.

Michael Edwards ordered the relevant audio recordings from City Hall, then converted them from WAV to smaller mp3 (podcast) format and make them available.  In the mean time people could start getting to grips with their topics, following suggestions in the attachment. The audio files are now (mostly) to hand and I  have uploaded it here so that people can listen and get the feel of it.

4. Practicalities / Action
Richard is now going on a (well-earned) holiday for a month so Michael will be the hub for communications unless/until any other arrangement is made.

It was agreed that it could be useful to have a weekly optional drop-in / clinic session at which we could sort issues out as we go along – probably at 1730 on Mondays for an hour of so. Is this OK? Some of the people who could not come yesterday may NEVER be able to do Mondays so let me know if some other arrangement will be better.

It was agreed that Michael should draft some guidelines for the presentation of the transcripts (circuated by email out of respect for data protection).

June Taylor knows some helpful software to control audio while transcribing. ExpressScribe – it’s quite simple to use & you can download it for free from http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/index.html – it uses wav files so there might not be any need to convert them to mp3.

Linking your university work to the priorities of community groups


Note on the possibilities for formalising such work for UCL credit

Many students have aligned their work with support for community groups simply on principle or to develop their stance politically and professionally – and have not tried to link it to the formal assignments they do as part of their degree.

This is a reminder, however, that the following possibilities may arise / apply:

1.  Dissertation topics can arise out of research questions thrown up in engagement with local or other campaigns and groups. We can show some good examples.

2.  Individual or group project work which you have to do as part of your studies can always be strengthened by effective communication with people in the area where you are working and can sometimes be of real practical help to local people.

3. Undergraduates may be able to devise and then execute individual studies and submit them under the “Project X” label and thus get credit. There is no pre-determined format for such projects providing you can get a supervisor to agree your plan. *

4. Similarly masters students may be able to register for an “Individual Study Project” as one of their modules.  Check your programme rules.*

* In respect of 3 and 4 you are welcome to discuss with Michael Edwards in the first instance if you wish.  m.edwards@ucl.ac.uk

Bartlett, 18 October 2010 revised 11 November.

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