Changes to the built environment can be life-altering for surrounding communities and the local economy, so it’s essential that communities are involved when planning decisions are being made. Participating in regeneration in your area will allow you to literally shape your own community.

The reality is that community engagement in matters of planning and regeneration can be low which can make it more challenging to hold developers and the council to account.

Think about it this way: there are roughly 32,000 people in Southwark. If just 0.5% of the population (i.e. 1,600 people) consistently defended the interests of their community in planning matters then the change and collective benefit to residents would be profound!

There are roughly 32,000 people in Southwark. If just 0.5% of the population (i.e. 1600 people) consistently defended the interests of their community then the change and collective benefit to residents would be profound!

This relies on people like you getting involved to make sure that the regeneration reflects community needs! These issues require the breadth of all the voices in the community from every walk of life because these changes affect our streets for generations.

For example, in some (but certainly not all!) cases, urban regeneration can must relocate businesses to relocate to different areas, or homes may be demolished which could require residents to seek new accomodation in a different neighbourhood. These things might be unfair if, say, the people affected are members of communities that have lived and worked there for generations and are suddenly forced to relocate further afield through no fault of their own. 

Communities that are often affected can often be people from minority communities such as BAME, refugees, or, generally speaking, low-income populations. It can also mean the closing of LGBTQ+ venues and youth community centres which can reduce social cohesion and bring with it a number of unintended social consequences. House

These things can be stopped or dramatically changed if sufficient opposition is mounted, alternatives provided, and ultimately if there is enough community support for positive changes to the proposals.

In the cases outlined above, affected residents and businesses could be given like-for-like accommodation or premises, or community premises that are closed must be given an adequate alternative in the new complex or nearby. Always bear in mind the reason why you oppose something as this will be key to finding a centre ground to inspire mutually beneficial and positive outcomes.

Other issues to consider are whether buildings will be too imposing and will harm the natural environment, whether a development will bring a large influx of people to the neighbourhood which may not have the right infrastructure to cope, or the demolition of buildings with historical or local interest. There are many things to consider, too. And it might be in support of a project too!

The Statement of Community Involvement will outline your right to express support or opposition on regeneration projects. It also outlines a series of engagement principles that the council must abide by in order to involve the local community in a meaningful way which you can read here.

Cover photo credit: Vecteezy; bullet points
Photo credit: Flat Icon