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  • Writer's pictureLara Kinneir

Londoners need to be more involved in shaping the way our city is built and managed.

Launching today with Centre for London, we have set out the following top five recommendations for what the next Mayor of London can do to strengthen public engagement in planning:

  1. Demonstrate leadership and champion democracy – Publishing a draft Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement and establishing Mayoral Community Advocates who can support public involvement at every stage of the process.

  2. Fund and build skills – Funding a training programme for local authority officers, councillors and community champions to help them work with residents to develop and enhance local plans.

  3. Establish a knowledge base – Using place based audits to recognise and value the knowledge and expertise of local people in the planning process.

  4. Create incentives – Developing and launching an accreditation scheme for planners and developers to recognise and reward good public engagement.

  5. Provide scrutiny – Setting up a scorecard to help local councillors assess the quality of community engagement in planning applications and support them to make better decisions.

We have a golden opportunity of much needed change in the next few months - with the mayoral election, a new London Plan and a great need in response to the social, economic and environmental ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please join us in our campaign to implement the changes and make a difference to the lives of Londoners, and leave your comments below. You can find the manifesto in full here

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  • Writer's pictureLara Kinneir

CCA announcement: Thursday 11 February 2021 Centre for London, the capital’s dedicated think tank, is taking up a campaign launched by CCA to ensure that the next Mayor of London champions community involvement in the way that the city gets built and managed.

Over the next month, Centre for London will be writing a manifesto that sets out how communities can take centre-stage in the process of urban change. We believe that if London really is going to bounce back better, professionals, politicians and community organisations will have to work together much more effectively alongside the public, to shape the kind of city that benefits everyone.

Whichever candidate wins the election on 6th May, we are calling for them to publish a Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement and transform how local communities are engaged in planning. This new research partnership between CCA and Centre for London will set out how the next Mayor can make this happen, with a manifesto scheduled to launch in early March.

Collective Community Action (CCA) is a network of diverse individuals united by a shared goal to debate, provoke and propose the changes needed to ensure communities lie at the heart of urban change. We think London needs to get serious about educating and empowering citizens and professionals to take part collectively in the way that their city is planned and developed.

If you’d like to join this call for a Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement, sign up at, share this post with your networks, and look out for the manifesto in March.

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  • Writer's pictureMatt Bell

We need a social contract for property and placemaking – can you help?

I’m an optimist. Always have been. But it’s not a rational position right now. We have a health crisis which has created an economic crisis that is leading to a social crisis. There will be about 3m people unemployed by 2022.

So which crisis matters most? For good reason, the Government is 100% focused on the short-term fix of vaccination. More so than tackling the structural health inequalities that so exacerbate this one.

Meantime, recession looms. Except it isn’t a recession. It’s a structural transition. We won’t be going back to anything. We’re being forced to move on from an extractive mentality that briefly thrived in a world of unlimited resource to a model and a mindset that recognises we exist in a symbiotic relationship with a finite world[1].

Which takes us to the social crisis. One way to view this is through the lens of a social contract. By that I mean, the rules and behaviours which enable different parts of society to co-exist and contribute. It’s manifest in things like corporate behaviour, neighbourliness and public trust in the government.

One area where that social contract is obviously broken is property. Arguably it never existed. Not, for example, when private railways steam-rolled their way into London during the mid-nineteenth century, displacing tens of thousands of people without compensation. Nor in the chequered history of forty years spent trying to improve, remodel or replace local authority estates. And certainly not in the present dysfunctional operation of the 21st century housing market.

At the heart of it all is the question of who decides what gets built and where communities stand in the process of urban change. Over the last year, I’ve been talking with a group of people working in regeneration, design and community development and this conversation has now coalesced into a network that formally goes live today. It’s called Collective Community Action (CCA).

We’ve set ourselves a shared goal – to debate, provoke and propose the changes needed to ensure that communities take centre stage in the process of changing cities like London for the better.

Our focus at the start will be on advocacy and education. We want to see every candidate seeking election in 16 weeks’ time as the next Mayor of London to commit to a Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement.

This will be a policy document setting out the Mayor of London’s public duties regarding the role of communities in urban change. A social contract, if you like, for property and placemaking.

We want this Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement to champion the social and spatial policies of the new (soon to be published) London Plan. In particular, its strengthened commitments on public engagement at an early stage and throughout the development of local plans and regeneration strategies; its intention to ensure that urban change tackles inequality and its causes; and its direction that new development should always build on a clear assessment of existing social infrastructure and on who and what is already there.

We think it needs a set of benchmarks to define what is acceptable in terms of public consultation and a mechanism to ensure that Statements of Community Involvement provide clear proof of local endorsement.

It would also act as an incentive for inclusive processes and multi-disciplinary approaches that clearly help to secure public support for good new development based on clear evidence of real need and desire.

In short, this is about making sure that progressive policies in a city-wide plan actually make a difference to what happens on the ground. It’s about communities taking centre-stage in the process of change and the way that places are made and managed.

If this issue fires you up and you’d be happy to endorse the idea of an MSCI, then please get in touch. Just add your name on the website: It doesn’t matter what you do and or whether you’re a CEO or citizen. We need you on board.

There’s a publication here that explains it all alongside some inspiring case studies of the kind of practice that could be commonplace in London, if we all got behind this.

And glory be, that’s an optimistic thought to end on. Maybe I was wrong!

[1] (All this explained much more cogently in a brilliant conversation between Indy Johar and Robert Phillips which you can listen to here: )

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