The Bartlett School of Planning


BSP MSc Students Impress at Thamesmead Academic Supercrit

28 June 2017

On the 16th of May, five MSc students from the Bartlett School of Planning volunteered to participate in the 2nd Annual Peabody Thamesmead Academic Supercrit.


This afternoon-long event was curated by Peabody and brought together students and staff from several London-based universities who have focused module project work in Thamesmead. This year this included presentations from LSE and the University of Kingston, and students on our own BSP core and specialist module BENVGPLF Planning Housing: Project.

BENVGPLF Planning for Housing is an MSc-level project-based module that challenges students in small groups to apply and extend their knowledge of development actors, practices and constraints to real-life residential development projects and opportunity areas in Greater London. The module consists of two parts: Part I Case Study Lesson Drawing focuses on understanding the critical challenges to effective planning for housing. This is facilitated through targeted weekly presentations from practitioners and experts in the field and via small group work assessing the vision, process and outcomes of existing examples of housing development and estate regeneration in London. The case study profiles are then operationalized in Part II Outline Development Proposal wherein the ‘lessons-learned’ are applied to the proposal of a development scheme for one of two sites (Broadwater Dock and Pettman Crescent) located within the West Thamesmead Masterplan, and part of the Abbey Wood, Plumstead and Thamesmead Housing Zone in the London Borough of Greenwich. Groups produced an outline proposal in poster format and presented this to an expert panel, including the landowner Peabody, a GLA planner, and a co-founder of the East London Community Land Trust. 

The presentation at the Peabody-curated Super Crit by five students who completed the module this spring, was an overview of the analytical process and planning outcomes produced by all four groups. What is amazing about the quality of the work produced is that this was achieved in only 4 weeks! As the module co-ordinator, I am always astonished by the professional outputs of the students on this module. This is the second year running that we have focused our project brief on sites in Plumstead and have worked closely with Peabody and a team of excellent external practice-based tutors to support the students through their in-depth analysis of the local context, Peabody’s aspirations for the regeneration of Thamesmead, and navigating the complexities of London-based policy conformity and market viability assessment. We have worked hard to develop a strong ‘learning-by-doing’ approach that throws our students into the ‘deep-end’ of planning and delivery of well designed, affordable and financially viable housing in some of the most challenging locations in London. Thamesmead has been a terrific laboratory for the students to create visions for their development proposals and to encounter the real challenges to attaining them in practice. This year’s project was also highly instructive of the dynamics of working in the field of planning for housing during a time of policy regime change within the GLA. 

Each year, the module attracts a student cohort of approximately 30 students who come from a range of MSc programmes offered within the Bartlett School of Planning. Some students have previous planning and design training but the majority do not. Many of our students are also international students who are unfamiliar with British Planning and policy. Again, I cannot reiterate how proud and impressed I am by the quality of the students’ work on the project. 

The feedback we received from the Peabody Regeneration team and the expert panel that they convened for the event was extraordinary. I have been contacted directly by some of them keen to underscore how impressed they were with the outputs and with the maturity and professionalism of our student representatives. I extend sincerest thanks to the students who worked to put together an excellent presentation, and I hope the experience was rewarding for them to receive such positive feedback from a field of esteemed experts. The following students are commended for their hard work and going beyond the requirements of the module: Glyn Mutton, Wenlin Liu, Benjamin Campos Catalan, Ronan Leyden and Wilson Wong.