Publication from Siân Berry: Engaging all Londoners in developing the next London Plan

Date published: 
01 December 2016

Engaging all Londoners in developing the next London Plan

Dear Sadiq,

I write in reference to your response to my oral question at Mayor’s Question Time on 16th November 2016 - Question 2016/4105: “How will you ensure that the process for developing your new London Plan engages with a more diverse range of Londoners than the last one?” I enclose a copy of the transcript of your response to my question, Appendix A.

I would like to expand on the requests I made and ensure that you stick by the commitment you made to: “engage more people than ever before ‑ community groups, civic societies and individuals ‑ to help define how the capital can be the best place to live, work and enjoy yourself and remain an open, world-class city”

The workshops and focus groups you outlined that would allow Londoners to participate in the early development of your new London Plan are a step in the right direction. However, ensuring that all Londoners can contribute to the early, meaningful and continuous development of the London Plan will require additional efforts from your team.

 

Transcripts from workshops and future events
Recent workshops were oversubscribed due the high interest of Londoners to engage in this early stage. It appears that many civil servants and officials were invited, which is appropriate, but more community groups and ordinary Londoners should have been able to fully participate and, on balance, I think these groups should have been given more priority.

I know that many people representing significant groups of Londoners were unable to secure places, and I think it is important for your team to get back to these people with meaningful ways they can contribute as soon as possible. You should also provide transcripts and webcasts for subsequent workshops so that contributions made can be captured and referred to in the future.

In addition, I have heard concerns that the condensed sessions, reduced from 4 hours to 1-2hrs, while a valid attempt to include more groups, did not allow enough time to fully cover the topics.

I understand this concern was also raised by people who were invited to attend the focus groups. The terms of reference of these workshops should be the same as the workshops held for the Mayoral strategies.

There is still a long way to go with the London Plan process, so I hope that you will hold further events with a full range of participatory activities - workshops, conferences, technical seminars, sounding boards, aimed more at listening to the views of community groups and citizens - and that these comments and concerns can be taken on board.

Accessible formats for materials
At Mayor’s Question Time I raised the issue of accessible formats for your consultation materials. I am disappointed that the City for All Londoners document is published only as a pdf, and that accessible e-books, audio versions and an Easy Read summary have not yet been added to the webpage seeking feedback. I hope this will be rectified as soon as possible.
 

Towards a Community Led Plan for London

Finally, I recommend that you and your Deputy Mayors take on board the recommendations from the Just Space document ‘Towards a Community Led Plan for London’ given in Appendix B to this letter and in particular, consider these two ideas.

Create a liaison process board for community groups
Creating a continuous liaison process for community groups, possibly like sounding boards, similar to the opportunity provided to members of the digital and creative industries community as part of the Smart London project[1] could play a vital role in bringing any problems with the process and new ideas to the fore, and would ensure that community groups have a direct line into the process for feedback and comments.

I think it is good that the Talk London site is already hosting online discussions.[2] However, it is unclear how these contributions will be considered in the final process and more publicity about this site may help to bring in early contributions from a diverse range of Londoners.

Write a statement of community involvement
Although not required by legislation, the process of developing the London Plan would benefit hugely from a Statement of Community Involvement from City Hall, published early in the process and used to set out and guide community involvement throughout the process.

I would be very happy to talk further about these issues with your officers, and recommend that you continue to engage with Just Space, who can provide more assistance with these ideas.

Yours sincerely,

Sian Berry
Green Party Member of the London Assembly

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