Alton estate’s People’s Plan
Title of the project: Co-designing neighbourhoods with communities in a blended environment: digital and face-to-face knowledge exchange
Principal Investigator and project coordinator: Dr Pablo Sendra
Team: Michael Short, Daniel Fitzpatrick, Nicola Livingstone, Irene Manzini Ceinar, Sahar Nava, William Turner, Sarah Goldzweig
Quantity Surveyor: Chetan Patel
In partnership with: Alton Action, Just Space
Funded by: Research England’s Higher Education Innovation Fund, managed by UCL Innovation & Enterprise
Between October 2020 and July 2021, a group of researchers from UCL carried out the knowledge exchange project ‘Co-designing neighbourhoods with communities in a blended environment: digital and face-to-face knowledge exchange’ in the Alton Estate. The project has been carried out in partnership with the local organisation Alton Action and the London-wide network of community groups Just Space. Alton Action has acted as a link between UCL researchers and the residents from the Alton Estate. They have also acted as community organisers and has supported UCL researchers in co-hosting the engagement workshops and in the production of the ‘Alton Estate’s People’s Plan’. Just Space is a network of community organisations with experience on overseeing estate regeneration processes, co-authors of the platform EstateWatch. London, who hosted one of the engagement workshops on how London policies can support a regeneration approach different from demolition.
The project has consisted of a series of community engagement workshops, a survey, and interviews with the aim of understanding how the regeneration scheme proposed by Wandsworth council would affect local people and co-producing with residents an alternative plan for the area that is demarcated for regeneration. This alternative scheme is referred in this document as the ‘People’s Plan’. The engagement workshops and the process of co-producing the People’s Plan have been a knowledge exchange with residents and campaigners, where residents learn about the future plans for their area and gain agency in being able to express the kind of development they aspire to; and researchers learn through the process of co-producing proposals with residents about how regeneration schemes affect local people.
The People’s Plan is one of the main outputs of this project. It includes urban design proposals that combine refurbishment of existing buildings, roof extension in existing buildings, sensitive infill development, demolition and redevelopment of two of the sites of the project, and also various strategies around biodiversity, community gardening, local shops and community infrastructure. The proposals have come out of the engagement workshops and are backed by various evidence base documents, including a social impact assessment, a heritage impact assessment, a preliminary assessment of the life cycle of the scheme, and also a review of the policies that affect estate regeneration in London.
Aims of the Knowledge Exchange Project
The UCL team (led by Dr Pablo Sendra), Alton Action and Just Space succeeded in securing funding from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (Research England) to develop the knowledge exchange project ‘Co-designing neighbourhoods with communities in a blended environment: digital and face-to-face knowledge exchange’ in the Alton Estate. The project team organised knowledge exchange workshops, as well as surveys and interviews with Alton Estate residents, with the following aims:
Through a range of engagement methods, co-produce with residents an analysis of the effects on the lives of residents of the regeneration scheme for Alton Estate proposed by the council.
Through a range of engagement methods, understand which are the main priorities for Alton Estate residents in the regeneration of the estate, and co-produce with them a community vision for the future of their neighbourhood. We will refer to this vision as the People’s Plan, which includes alternative design proposals and a feasibility study.
Exchange knowledge between communities and universities: communities learn about planning and increase their capacity to influence decision making. Researchers learn from communities how to better engage residents in planning.
Aim of the People’s Plan
The People’s Plan is a community vision to improve the Alton Estate. It begins from the need to improve the conditions of the existing homes and to provide good quality community and retail spaces. It engages with many of the proposals of the Supplementary Planning Document produced for the area in 2015, such as improving “the quality of the retail, service and community facilities” or specifics aspects of the detailed masterplan such “affordable workspace for small businesses and the voluntary sector”. Although the People’s Plan engages with many of the proposals of the Supplementary Planning Document and the detailed masterplan, it takes a different approach to regeneration.
In the context of Climate Emergency, this People’s Plan have co-produced with residents and communities in the area a scheme that proposes the refurbishment and improvement of 274 out of the 292 existing homes, retail units and community facilities within the area demarcated for regeneration; proposes new homes, retail units (including a large supermarket, smaller retail units and affordable retail spaces), workspaces (including co-working spaces, creative studios, affordable workspaces and spaces for community groups and the volunteer sector), and community facilities through sensitive infill developments, ensuring that there is not any substantial loss of green space, and through roof extensions; the People’s Plan proposes demolition and redevelopment of two sites within the demarcation area, which are “site A” near St Joseph’s Church and Portswood Place. In total, this implies the demolition of only 17 out of the 292 existing homes, the majority of which are already vacant. This minimises the impact on the residents as very few of them will need to re-housed.
What Does the Community Plan Propose?
425 homes: 274 refurbished and 151 new built.
11792.38 sqm of community facilities, including two Health facilities/centres: 5896.59 sqm refurbished and 5895.79 new built.
9098.73 sqm of retail, including a large supermarket: 7395.25 sqm refurbished and 1703.48 sqm new built.
1065 sqm of new built workspace.
A total of 370 total parking spaces in case the underground car park has two storeys and 310 in case it has only one storey.