Each year from September to December, Urban Development Planning MSc students engage in a UK practice engagement, forming part of the core practice module and building on an action-research approach.
Refined in partnership with community groups / networks, the UDP London project aims to actively engage with local communities around planning and policy processes to promote more socially, spatially and environmentally just development outcomes in the city. It acts as a key foundation for the subsequent overseas fieldtrip component of this module.
During this engagement students explore knowledges, tools and skills required to become reflexive urban development practitioners. The London project also provides a practical introduction to processes of co-production for strategic action planning, which students later hone further during the international field trip.
Since 2014, the UDP programme has partnered with the Just Space network to design and deliver the London project, tackling issues such as Social Impact Assessment (2017/18); Youth Engagement (2016/17); Diversity and Inclusion (2015/16) and Olympic Regeneration (2014/15). Just Space is an informal alliance of community groups, campaigns and concerned independent organisation formed in 2006 to act as a voice for Londoners during the formulation of planning strategies in the capital.
2022-23 and 2021-22: Exploring the use, abuse and potential of Public Land in Southwark
In Autumn 2021 and 2022, UDP students engaged with community-groups across the inner-London borough of Southwark to explore the use, abuse and potential of public land in Southwark. This project was designed in collaboration with Southwark Planning Network – an informal community network of activist groups and individuals concerned with planning matters throughout Southwark.
As well as developing a robust critique of the ways in which public land and assets have been dominantly thought of and planned with during the first part of the twenty-first century, this project also produced a number of actionable recommendations for how public land might be reframed and reclaimed as a common asset and platform for a more just city yet to come.
- Discover the outputs of our 2022-23 London project
- Excitingly, the findings from this research project were able to play a role in catalysing a Public Land Commission in Southwark, a process which is ongoing and expected to report in late-Summer 2023.
- Running in parallel to this teaching collaboration, UDP tutors Tim Wickson and Barbara Lipietz developed a small video project called ‘Our Land: Southwark Stories’ which aimed to further document and amplify community perspectives on the use, abuse and potential of public land in the borough. The project culminated in seven audio-visual short-stories.
2020-21: Tracing evolving narrative(s) of community planning in London pre- and post-COVID-19
In Autumn 2020, UDP students conducted remote interviews with sixteen community organisations involved in campaigns to promote more just planning in London. Building on a longstanding collaborative partnership between the programme and a London-wide network of community campaigns and organisations called Just Space, the purpose of these interviews was twofold: (1) to support the Just Space network in tracking the impact that COVID-19 and associated lockdown measures were having on London’s diverse communities; and (2) to gather grass-roots ideas to feed into a broader conversation about how London might build-back fairer after the pandemic. Designed as a first step towards the production of Just Space’s Community-Led Recovery Plan for London, this project captured and amplified unheard stories of community struggle and resilience in the face of COVID-19.
- Discover the outputs of our 2020-21 London project
- Some of the findings from this project were distilled and embedded in an audio-map.
2019-20, 2018-19 and 2017-18: Assessing social impact in London
In a dense, interdependent and unequal city such as London, Just Space argues that the social impact of development should be given equal weight, in planning decisions, to other impact assessments.
Working with community groups in both Haringey and Southwark, 2017-18 Urban Development Planning MSc students developed inclusive social impact assessment tools that can be used by Just Space to promote alternative development models that are responsive to the needs of diverse communities and respect the irreplaceability of community assets and social infrastructure.
- Discover the outputs of our 2017-18 London project
2016-17: Youth engagement in London planning
For those working for socially and environmentally just cities, the exclusion of young people from formal planning is of profound concern.
Working with community and youth groups across London, 2016-17 Urban Development Planning MSc students interrogated current processes for youth engagement at different scales, and sought ways in which such processes could be improved, extended and strengthened for London’s 18-25 year olds. The below ‘Youth Engagement in London Planning’ report encapsulates the key learnings derived from this multi-actor engagement.
- Discover the outputs of our 2016-17 London project
2015-16: Addressing social inclusion in the new London Plan
London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the European Union and one of the most unequal. This project asked how London planning could respond to this reality?
Working with community groups across London, in 2015/16 MSc UDP students studied the challenges and opportunities facing different minority interest groups in the capital, formulating policy proposals for inclusion in the then emerging London Plan.
- Discover the outputs of our 2016-17 London project
- The findings of our action-research were also integrated into Just Space’s report 'Towards a Community-Led Plan for London'.
2014-15: Optimising the 2012 olympic legacy in East London
London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games built on the promise that bringing a mega-event to East London would catalyze socio-economic gains for some of Britain’s most-deprived communities.
Taking stock two years after the closing ceremony, 2014-15 Urban Development Planning MSc Students were asked by Just Space to revisit the so-called Olympic Legacy in East London in order to help the network’s future engagement with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and amplify community voices in the ongoing regeneration of East London.