9th December, 2019
Enhancing existing housing estates is a national and regional priority. However, whilst there has been some good practice, past schemes have often caused significant stress to residents in the planning stage and achieved less outputs than hoped for.
The overriding priority of the Camden Goods Yard Options Appraisal was to ensure residents could make a fully informed decision on the future of their estates, and that any agreed option was deliverable.
Quod became involved with the project after Camden Council published a wider area planning framework. This prompted a review of options for One Housing’s Estates at Juniper Crescent and Gilbeys Yard. Quod were appointed to undertake an Options Appraisal, establishing the overall process in line with relevant guidance, and assessing the planning, financial and housing aspects of potential options.
One Housing wanted to ensure that the wishes and needs of its residents were the central factor in deciding the way forward. The Resident Steering Group shared this aim and were prepared to take an active role in driving the process and evaluating options.
Whilst the process of completing an Options Appraisal has been challenging and required hard work from all sides, the approach taken has ensured much greater levels of resident engagement than most similar schemes. The approach taken was different because:
- Residents views were sought at the earliest stage, before any decisions about development or refurbishment had been made. One Housing were also committed to maintaining homes to a good standard and the opportunity to “do nothing” was a genuine choice available.
- The views of residents shaped the assessment criteria against which all potential options would be judged. This ensured the eventual preferred option would be focused on residents’ needs.
- The Steering Group developed an early list of commitments which residents needed in order to feel secure in taking part in the process (e.g. guarantees on new homes, tenant’s ballot and rent levels etc). One Housing gave unambiguous commitments to the majority of these at an early stage.
- Financial information was shared fully with residents, with help to understand this given by the professional team. Residents were therefore able to understand what options were deliverable.
The benefits of the approach were reflected in the number of residents which have been involved – 75% of households engaged in some way, either online, at events or home visits. The open dialogue also ensured that residents’ needs could be fully understood, and clear support was indicated for the preferred option.
The scheme has been shortlisted for the Award for Stakeholder Engagement in the Planning Awards. A developer partner is now being appointed, following which the preferred option will be refined and subject to a resident ballot ahead of a planning application.
For further details please contact Chris Wheaton.