Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

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 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


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

A useful survey by Ivan Tosics of some cities’ experiments and innovations during the pandemic is at 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:

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]

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 
(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

Recording of the session is:

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

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:

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  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

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]

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 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

Volunteer opportunities 2019/20

October 22, 2019

As in previous years, Just Space will be working with UCL students, principally from the School of Planning, who wish to work with community and activist groups as extra-curricular activity – i.e. outside the formal scope of their taught programmes. Just Space is a network of London-wide and local activist and community groups which support each other in dealing with the planning system, housing, environment and related matters at various geographic scales.

Interested students (undergraduate, masters or doctoral) are invited to attend one of the 3 following briefing sessions to hear more about what could be on offer and to tell us about their particular interests in doing this sort of work. One daytime meeting and two early evening meetings have been scheduled to try and fit people’s academic, employment, domestic and other commitments. If you would like to join in but cannot attend at any of these times, please email Michael Edwards
Venues listed at    [ now deleted ]

In preparation, we urge you to read the 4 pages of the Protocol in which, over the years, we have tried to distill advice on how to make the most of these collaborations and avoid the pitfalls.  You might also enjoy a report we did last year on the collaborations so far.  And of course you’ll find a lot more material at

Topics and localities where opportunities exist (as at 16/11/19)

London Plan transcriptions

In the coming weeks it would be very helpful to have transcriptions of certain key sessions in the recent LondonPlan EiP – sessions of special interest to community groups. There are audio recordings of all sessions + video of a few.  Richard Lee is coordinating this activity:
Software to convert audio to rough text may help generate first draft. There are many versions, some free,

Suggest you start by reviewing relevant session on the JS web page.

Housing: targets Matter 10

Housing: affordability Matter 24

Housing: other topics Matters 11, 36 and others

Housing Density: Matter 39

Equality, Matter 2

Regeneration Matter 15 and estate renewal Matter 26

Opportunity Areas Matter 14

Green/blue infrastructure Matters 64 and 66

Bio-diversity Matter 66

Social Infrastructure (many short sessions) 51, 52, 54, 56

Heritage 45, 49

and you’ll find it helpful to have a copy of the draft London Plan, the latest version of which show alterations made before / during / since the Examination in Public: Draft New London Plan – Consolidated Suggested Changes version July 2019

Barking Riverside

Through the year we shall be working to support community development group Thames Ward Community Project which works in the biggest ‘Opportunity Area’ where a large ex-industrial space is being developed, mainly for housing, by a joint GLA/developer company Barking Riverside Ltd and with a number of long-established council housing estates and industrial zones also within the ward. We are asked to help (a) in deciphering planning etc documents in plain language (b) supporting local working groups on many topics including green and blue spaces (c) helping formulate a “charter” to which citizens, developers and public authorities would be asked to sign up, committing themselves to transparent and democratic processes. Marian Larragy will help support students working here.

Hackney Central

Local resident groups are engaging with Hackney Council about a large development proposed on the site of an existing big Tesco and its car park. So far their consideration has focused on the proposed housing (tenure and mix) but we have been asked to help generate evidence on the employment and economic impacts of this scheme and of the wider hackney Central regeneration of which this development forms part – affecting established shopping streets, enterprises in railway arches, a bus garage and other uses. Michael Edwards will support students working on this. NB don’t opt for this if you are in MSc UDCP at it may be a focus of module coursework next term.

Old Oak Park Royal

Just Space works with the Grand Union Alliance, a network of community organisations which it helped pull together to span an enormous ‘Opportunity Area’ on the junction of 3 boroughs in west London. The area is governed by a Mayor (of London) Development Corporation OPDC and is experiencing major challenges in agreeing and implementing its plans. It depends on property development profits to pay for social housing, new site infrastructure and social infrastructure and the claims of existing land owners for profit from their holdings. The largest private land owner has pulled out and proposes its own project. Students working on this project will be supported by Robin Brown.

Hayes town centre / neighbourhood planning

Also in West London (just north of Heathrow), this town/area is a relatively poor and deindustrialised part of the borough of Hillingdon, which also has a rich northern part (whose MP is Boris Johnson). Local community groups are active in seeking to influence developments proposed in the area and may undertake a Neighbourhood Plan. Students working on this project will be supported by Robin Brown


London Universities – Communities Knowledge Exchange

October 22, 2019

Following on from a session at the Tate Exchange in July 2018, Sarah Bell at the UCL Engineering Exchange successfully applied for funding of £30,000, half of which is earmarked for Just Space to convene joint meetings between community groups and University participants.  This 12 month programme of work (which started in January 2019) considers how we scale up the support on offer from Universities to community groups, and the structures and mechanisms that are needed for effective partnership working London wide.  Just Space has engaged Sona Mahtani to co-ordinate and may engage others.  A free conference will take place on 23 October: details and booking at  Document prepared for the event (36 pages, PDF download)

Reporting and supporting the London Plan EiP

January 12, 2019

The examination in public (EiP) of the draft new London Plan opens on Tuesday 15th and will sit on at least 30 days between now and May.  UCL people have played a variety of supporting roles with the dozens of community groups who have made representations about the plan and it’s a great tribute that the independent Panel of Inspectors has invited Just Space* and its member-groups to participate in the discussions on almost all of the 30 days.

UCL support is continuing with students and staff assisting some contributors and planning to report in blog format on the daily proceedings. [The EiP process is in some ways very democratic and transparent but only for those who can sit day after day in City Hall. Journalists hardly ever attend and (hitherto) there have been no broadcasts or official reporting. So this project is a major innovation.]

Thanks to support from the UCL Bartlett School of Planning, there will also be a number of briefing and de-briefing sessions hosted at UCL for community organisations, UCL students & staff and anyone else who want to follow in this way. Put these dates in your diary:  1600-1900h on Wednesdays
30 January Harrie Massey theatre, 25 Gordon St WC1H 0QB
20 February 22 Gordon Street room G12 WC1H 0QB
13 March 22 Gordon Street room G12 WC1H 0QB
10 April 22 Gordon Street room G12 WC1H 0QB
5 June after the hearings end Roberts Building opposite Waterstones, Corner of Gower St and Torrington Place,  Lecture Theatre 106. Drinks.

The Just Space web site has rich resources on the EiP including a new page combining the day-by-day programme of topics, the Panel’s questions for debate, the Just Space responses and reports on recent sessions.

The EiP itself has a main web page with links to the Plan, supporting evidence, all the consultation and subsequent responses and other documentation.

  • Just Space is a collaboration network of community organisations which came into existence a decade ago, mainly to facilitate and support public participation in the planning and policy processes of the new London Government system.