The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU student reaches semi-finals of Mayor's Entrepreneur Competition 2022 in London

4 July 2022

We are delighted that the “People's Projects” by Urwa Shahid, a DPU MSc Urban Development Planning student, made it to the semi-finals of the Mayor's Entrepreneur Competition 2022 in London.

people's project

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition has asked London’s students to come up with viable, sustainable business ideas since 2012. For 2021/22 there are five awards with each of the winners receiving £20k to start up their business along with expert mentoring from staff at City Hall to get their idea to market.  An expert panel of judges shortlisted the 30 best ideas from each award to go through to the semi-final. The 150 semi-finalists will attend a bootcamp style training session to get some additional training and tips on pitching. They will then create a two-minute video pitch which will be sent to the expert judges who will select the top six ideas from each award to go through to the final.

The People's Projects [PP] by Urwa Shahid, a DPU MSc UDP student, was selected as a semi-finalist for the Social Enterprise award of the Mayor's Entrepreneur Competition 2022. PP aims to provide self-sustainable and highly affordable housing, commercial and leisure spaces to residents of London without discrimination. Housing crisis and unaffordable living costs in London have become highly noticeable in recent years with vulnerable groups, including homeless families, single parents and underpaid employees facing the harshest consequences of these circumstances. PP’s goal is to create spaces where all residents of London are at equal advantage within society, and no one is left behind.

Everyone is given the opportunity to take part in research and contribute to knowledge-building, defining criteria for what they consider to be a prosperous lifestyle, directing policymakers and other actors to work towards a newly established status-quo that caters to the needs of people of London.
The business reduces carbon impact by utilizing low-energy systems like in-slab floor heating which reduces gas bills by 42%, while harvesting rainwater for domestic purposes.

Other methods are to be researched by the community members themselves as the business thrives through the participation of local users, thus giving back to London while minimizing the use of city’s resources.
The projects at PP will not only address high functionality but also pay attention to aesthetic details that are considered appealing by the masses of London. In fact, Londoners would dictate the kind of spaces they fancy, and PP would have them as the main drivers of its projects, through surveys, interviews, and active participation in design while making every citizen’s voice count in its bureaucratic meetings.

The unique selling point of People’s Projects is keeping people of London at the forefront, despite their diversities, without discrimination, and creating attractive multi-use spaces for Londoners to address their housing and employment needs and other social and racial issues.

Urwa’s idea of PP represents a symbol of serving her fellow citizens by alleviating their main life-security issues through long-term housing, secure jobs, healthy entertainment, and social interactivity in safe and encouraging spaces, all of this, by using her skills as an Architect and Urban Planner.

The idea of People’s Projects [PP] meets the aims of the “Social Enterprise Award” as it creates tangible support for diverse social groups of London in the realm of 'Built Environment'. PP will directly connect users with their projects without them having to go through long channels of struggle and uncertainty or dealing with infamous council support especially in the matter of housing. Increasingly enough, several low-income groups are being transferred to private renting due to lack of social housing in certain boroughs, which is making it difficult for people to afford a suitable home, thus resulting in overcrowding or homelessness. PP aims to create modern, appealing, functional and sustainable homes for this part of the population and create equal employment opportunities for everyone within the mixed-use complexes.

PP will impact London is a positive way by making it city of justice, equality, freedom, and security. No Londoner will have to live in ‘ghettos’ or slum-like social housing or spend years in temporary accommodation or overpriced privately rented homes. PP brings beautiful low-energy homes to every Londoner regardless of their gender, race, or sexuality, while prioritizing vulnerable groups by a certain degree. Not only does this idea solve the housing crisis but also the issue of lack of employment and sociable spaces within neighborhoods. PP will create strongly intertwined mixed-use neighborhoods and encourage interaction and solidarity among residents by organizing weekly/monthly events in communal spaces for everyone to get to know each other and create a safety network around each other. People’s Projects aims to make London cleaner, greener and ready for the future.