UCL Urban Laboratory


UCL's Stratford proposition

23 October 2012

UCL Urban Laboratory statement on UCL's proposition to develop a university quarter in Stratford.

The London Borough of Newham's Cabinet will this week consider UCL's proposition to develop a university quarter in Stratford on the site of the Carpenters Estate, currently occupied by 318 households. The UCL Urban Laboratory has not been involved in the development of the proposals. However, some staff associated with the Urban Laboratory have had meetings with the team who have developed UCL's vision document, in order to emphasise the need for the estate's residents and other community groups to lead discussions regarding the future of their estate and neighbourhood. 

At a public meeting held on the estate on 24 September the Carpenters Joint Residents Steering Group - a body of residents including a mix of tenants, leaseholders and freeholders, with representatives from the Tenant Management Organisation and CARP - voted to adopt a statement which opposes a UCL-led development on the basis of a range of concerns regarding the proposals UCL had at that time presented to them. 

Drawing on the research of scholars connected with the Urban Laboratory, and on evidence from wider urban studies scholarship, we contend that ethical regeneration is only possible if community-led. That would mean, in this case, empowering both the on-site and wider Newham communities, and listening to and responding to residents' objections. We strongly urge UCL to undertake such negotiations - as has been agreed by the UCL Council in correspondence with residents.

The wider UCL community has so far not been involved in the decision to pursue this new development. If Newham and UCL decide to proceed to develop the proposals further, an open debate will ensue, and UCL has made a commitment that during this time residents and other community groups, and UCL staff and students, will be able to engage seriously in the discussions regarding a potential UCL-led development. This will provide further opportunities to draw on UCL's wide-ranging world-leading research on housing, regeneration, and community participation in urban development to ensure that any regeneration proposed or undertaken by UCL is ethical and follows sustainable principles. 

Note: A diverse range of UCL staff members and students are associated with the UCL Urban Laboratory. This statement reflects the views of the Urban Laboratory Steering Committee, but individuals may take different standpoints on the UCL Stratford proposals.