MD1588 Public Realm Campaign

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
22 December 2015
Decision by: 
Boris Johnson MP (past staff), Mayor of London

Executive summary

Engage Londoners with an enhanced public realm offer, encouraging enjoyment and ownership of the capital’s public realm. The public realm campaign will deliver festival-style activities across a number of parks and public spaces across the capital in March 2016.  There will be promotional activity underway in February and early March to support this.



That the Mayor approves:

a)    1. delivery of the proposed public realm campaign;

b)    2. expenditure of up to £200,000, funded from existing 2015/16 budgets in the Environment Unit (£125k), Regeneration Unit (£25k) and External Relations Events for London (£50k);

c)    3. the assimilation of the three approved budgets, totalling £200,000, under a new budget line, managed by Events for London;

d)    4. the receipt and additional expenditure of up to £150k in commercial sponsorship to further enhance the programme of activities.  It is anticipated that local partners will also support the events/activities on a value in kind basis;

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    Over the last 10 years, a number of engagement campaigns have been delivered providing high profile, high quality “strategic interventions” in the form of events, seasons and festivals, working with partners both large and small across London’s cultural, creative, community, local business and heritage sectors. The campaigns demonstrate how the GLA, through innovative and well delivered projects, can play a vital, catalyst role in London life. Previous examples include ‘Lates’ campaign and ‘Story of London’.  

1.2    Following the recent London’s Great Outdoors (LGO’s) focus group (run to prepare for the “Fresh Adventures on your doorstep” marketing campaign), a need was identified to raise awareness of London’s public realm and encourage greater use of these spaces by Londoners. 

1.3    The Events for London team has worked with the Environment and Regeneration teams to identify key shared objectives for a campaign that would build and extend the work already started via the recently completed ‘Fresh Adventures At Your Doorstep’ awareness-raising campaign.

1.4    Preparation of the ‘Fresh Adventures on Your Doorstep’ campaign has highlighted three key themes:

•    Personalisation: Communication of ‘your’ London and ‘your’ public spaces is particularly appealing and indicates sense of ‘local’.
•    Enjoyment: The purpose of these public spaces in London is to be enjoyed and language that alludes to this is appreciated.
•    Direct encouragement: Energised, lively and encouraging messaging that motivates people to get out there has positive sense of purpose.

1.5    This initial scoping has been used to develop a campaign to both increase awareness of the public realm and also encourage use of the spaces. The policy teams have jointly developed the ‘Find Your London’ festival (working title). This will present the public with a festival programme of events and activities, providing a platform for public realm spaces including amongst others GLA Environment and Regeneration projects: Pocket Parks; Big Green Fund; London’s Trees; and improvements to high streets.  

1.6    This directly addresses the recommendations of the London Health Commission which states that to secure the health benefits from its open spaces “….London could also do more to harness the benefits of its unusually large amount of green space by using them as a natural rallying point – as already happens informally and at a more local level……. Londoners naturally gravitate to their parks for physical activity and sports. This could be more energetically encouraged by citywide initiatives, spearheaded by the Mayor”.

1.7    The proposed campaign will place the festival-goer at the centre, offering the public “a London to suit them” via a number of different ‘mood’ profiles through which activities, top tips and tailored itineraries will be suggested. The festival will offer activities across London, including places in inner and outer London boroughs that can be accessed easily by locals and visitors using public transport. The five moods are:

•    ACTIVATE - Encouraging people to put their smartphones and technology to one side and get active. 
•    EXPLORE - For people who are feeling brave and want to get out of their safety zone.
•    PLAY - Time to simply have fun and play.
•    RELAX - An invitation to slow down and enjoy a tranquil side of London – life is not a race.  
•    BE INSPIRED - An opportunity to feed your curiosity and find inspiration in unexpected places.

1.8    The festival will be programmed in partnership with a series of partner organisations and will be profiled via a guide and a website and will be promoted across London and beyond.

1.9    Types of partners will include: 

•    Cultural and heritage organisations; 
•    Community groups;
•    Environmental organisations; 
•    Business groups (local retails and BIDs). 
•    Transport for London (TfL); 
•    Local Authorities (in particular Parks and Leisure departments);
•    London & Partners; 

1.10    Programme partners will provide activities for the festival programme, which the GLA will promote – in turn programme partners will also use their own channels to promote their activities as well as the wider festival. There is also an opportunity to work with commercial partners to broaden the scope of activities, and with communications partners to maximise outreach of the project.

1.11    The content provided by the partner organisations will consist of the following types:

•    Existing relevant events and activities or content that can be easily generated in response to the festival. 
•    Content that can be significantly enhanced via small funding grants (up to £5,000 each). This series of grant awards will act as seed funding enabling a variety of organisations to take part in the festival, to     generate new work and new partnerships and allowing them to use the grant to draw in additional funding from other sources.
•    Flagship event, ideally with match funding contribution from the initiating programme partner (this event will stimulate media interest beneficial to the festival’s wider profile and cut-through).
•    Sponsorship activation activity.

1.12    The content will be programmed according to key criteria and via an open invitation. This invitation will go out to a broad range of organisations across London’s 33 boroughs. It will be in the main created and delivered by third party partners (for example a community park fitness group, local youth arts organisations, friends of parks & woodlands groups) but carefully selected by lead GLA officers. During the programme development process we will work to achieve: a good geographical range of events; a diverse offer of activities; and identify activities that will support the promotional needs of the festival.

1.13    The programme content will not include anything which could be interpreted as politically sensitive or contentious. No political figures or candidates will be invited to be involved or attend the festival – although as a public festival it will be open for all to attend.   

1.14    Anticipated activities in parks and open spaces include tree planting, volunteering, walking trails and creating new activities to attract new audiences to spaces e.g. den building workshops, sports/games for adults and children and programming art/cultural activities in local squares and streets.  There will be 50-100 events taking place across London. 
1.15    The proposed structure for the festival will be: opening weekend (18 – 20 March) including a flagship launch event, a week of activity followed by the Easter weekend finale (25 – 28 March). These eleven days provide a clear shape for both media and attendees to engage with the programme on offer.

1.16    The flagship launch event and the events supported by GLA small funding grants will be completed by 20 March 2015.

1.17    Please also see reserved Appendix 1.

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1        The objectives for the campaign are:
•    Improve perceptions of, and engagement, with London’s outdoors, including green and urban spaces.
•    Encourage exploration and greater healthy use of London’s green and urban spaces.
•    Increase attendance and use of London’s green and urban spaces, particularly families.
•    Foster sense of ownership and pride of local areas and their public realm to support social and community cohesion.     
•    Stimulate increased visitor spend across the local economy.

2.2        Delivering this engaging campaign across London will also:
•    Encourage greater use and appreciation of London’s outdoors to improve health and quality of life for Londoners.
•    Raise awareness of the improvements in London’s outdoors (by promoting quality and innovation in public spaces).
•    Actively engage with a pan London audience.

2.3        A major component of the Mayor’s strategic plan is the improvement of the public realm to make     London a liveable city where all people can access and enjoy exemplar public spaces.  In addition,     because the campaign includes a range of organisations it delivers on the promise to develop a     programme of support for cultural events that reflect the diversity and creative talent of London.     Specifically, our anticipated outcomes are:

•    Delivering event activation at  sites (number to be determined) that have benefited from public realm improvement (both Mayoral and non-Mayoral improvements);
•    Enhance delivery of local festival projects with seed funding.
•    Achieving increased awareness rating amongst event attendees of improvements made to the public realm;
•    Achieving an improvement in the perception of the public realm space through satisfaction surveys at the events;
•    Achieving a potential increase in use of the public realm space, by measuring expectations of future habits of attendees.     

2.4        The impact of the public realm campaign will reach a wide range of audiences across Greater     London. Our anticipated outcomes are:

•    Attendance of an estimated 100,000 visitors taking part in the campaign events and activities.
•    Generating an estimated £1.5m additional visitor spend across the campaign event locations (based on an average of £15 additional spend per visitor). 

Equality comments

3.1        The campaign contributes to the delivery of the equalities agenda in London by promoting the city’s     cultural and community activities to families and young people increasing their engagement and     participation.  In addition, because the festival includes a huge range of diverse organisations it     delivers heavily on the promise to develop a programme of support for cultural events that reflect     the diversity of London.

3.2        Whilst it is not possible to measure health improvements associated with the campaign as they     require long-term change, the workshops and participation facets of the festival including many     walking and outdoor activities contribute to quality of life. Also the fact that the festival promotes     the work of so many community organisations enhances community cohesion.

3.3    Consultation is taking place with relevant stakeholders across London’s cultural and heritage sectors;     with local boroughs, businesses and BIDs; with London & Partners and Transport for London. This     ongoing dialogue will work to ensure a consistent and widespread support for the festival and the     benefits it generates for London.

Other considerations

4.1    Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities

4.1.1        The Mayor’s Vision 2020 provides a strong focus on liveability and quality of life. On             London’s outdoors it states: ‘We want a city […]  whose streets are ever safer and whose air         and parks and     rivers are ever cleaner, and where we can say that of all the big cities in the             world, London is the best to live in.’

4.1.2        Whilst specific public space improvements feature throughout the Vision 2020 narrative, and         individual programmes have their own communication objectives, a more powerful message         could be broadcast about how the outdoors as the sum of its parts / in its totality is at the             very essence of London. In recent years the attention of cities across the world has once             again turned to the outdoors. There is a risk that London is underselling its vision and             achievements, by not being able to clearly communicate the values of its great outdoors             through a simple, over-arching message that pivots around liveability and quality of life.

4.1.3        The Mayor’s vision for public realm, London's Great Outdoors was launched in 2009. It             recognises that investment in public space enhances the look and feel of the city, making it a         more healthy and pleasant place for residents and visitors and an environment in which             businesses can thrive.

4.1.4        London’s Great Outdoors is an overarching initiative, capturing all actions the Mayor is             taking to improve London’s outdoors through his agencies. The purpose of London’s Great             Outdoors is not to replace existing GLA investment programmes, but to join them up and             promote the wider ambitions for public space and why it is so important for London,             Londoners and visitors.

4.1.5        Between 2009 and 2012 eighty four significant outdoor projects were completed across.             Moreover, the Mayor continues to invest in the outdoors, both improving London's image as         the world’s most green and liveable big city and highlighting London's offer as a city that             can sustain economic growth. Recent and current programmes that contribute to the             transformation and improvement of London’s outdoors include the Outer London Fund, the         Mayor’s Regeneration Fund, the High Street Fund, Pocket Parks, Big Green Fund (1 and 2),         RE:LEAF, The Mayor’s Street Tree Programme, the All London Green Grid and TfL’s Major             Schemes and Roads Modernisation Plan.

4.1.6        The Mayor’s Action for High Streets (2014) describes the objectives to make local high             streets: 

        •    More diverse in order to give people more reasons to visit, dwell and live on by                 developing as stronger cultural offer;
        •    More distinctive, thereby increasing appreciation of the high street and celebrating                 the history, scene and peculiarities that make a place special through local audits,                 tours and exhibitions and festivals.

        The festival will directly complement the Mayor’s environment programmes: Pocket Parks,             Big Green Fund (1 and 2), RE:LEAF; The Mayor’s Street Tree Programme, and the All             London Green Grid ensuring that green spaces are fully utilised by London’s public and that         Londoners experience the health and wellbeing that these improvements offer.

4.1.7        The London Plan Policy 2.18 green infrastructure  - the network of open and green spaces,             also states: ‘The Mayor will work with all relevant strategic partners to protect, promote,             expand and manage the extent and quality of, and access to, London’s network of green             infrastructure. This multifunctional network will secure benefits including, but not limited to,         biodiversity; natural and historic landscapes; culture; building a sense of place; the economy;         sport; recreation; local food production; mitigating and adapting to climate change; water             management; and the social benefits that promote individual and community health and             well-being.’

4.1.8        The Find Your London festival delivers on the following priorities of the Mayor’s Cultural             Strategy: 

        •    Policy 5.1 - The Mayor, with a range of public and sector partners, is promoting                 high-quality urban design and an enhanced public realm in London, recognising that             cultural organisations often have a key role to play in shaping strategies, informing                 planning processes and engaging on individual projects
        •    Policy 4.1 - The Mayor will ensure that cultural campaigns and projects supported by             the GLA successfully engage with children and young people, and help to foster a                 spirit of inquiry and aspiration for arts, heritage and culture
        •    Policy 3.1 - The Mayor is working with and encouraging cultural institutions, local                 authorities and strategic funding bodies in their efforts to ensure that high-quality                 cultural provision is expanded and enhanced across the entire London region 
        •    Policy 3.2 - In partnership with local authorities and sector bodies, the Mayor’s                 events team at the GLA is supporting high-quality festivals, campaigns and cultural                 events across London, both existing and new, developing and widening audiences                 and participation in London

4.1.9        This campaign also supports the direction of travel of the emerging cultural tourism strategy         which seeks to boost visitor attractions outside central London, picking up on recent trends         in the market whereby visitors increasingly want to experience London ‘like a local’. 

4.2    Impact assessments and consultations

4.2.1        A pan GLA project working group including Events for London, Regeneration, Environment,         Culture and Commercial Partnerships has been established to steer and coordinate the             development of the campaign. The group has been consulted in the development of the             proposed concept for the campaign outlined in this report.

4.2.2        The evaluation of the recent “Fresh Adventures At Your Doorstep” LGO campaign shows             that for those who had seen the campaign it was well received and impactful on activities             involving London’s outdoors: 40% of those visited to find out more about             public space improvements, 40% visited a public space in their local area and 35% shared             their experience of visiting public space on social media.

4.2.3        The Mayor’s Design Advisory Group (MDAG) has previously been consulted on the proposal         for a public facing campaign. MDAG supports externally facing promotion of London’s Great         Outdoors.

4.3    Key Risks and Issues 

4.3.1        There is a reliance on partners providing content for the festival. The GLA’s small grants will         deliver some events, however partner events ensure that the programme offer is fuller             providing activity across London.  

4.3.2        For event and activities delivered by external partners there will be limited direct control             which could result in reputational issues for the GLA.  The GLA Events for London team will         work very closely with the event and activity owners ensuring our funding is linked to core             event delivery milestones and to oversee the financial viability and quality of the events.

4.3.3        There is a tight timeframe to deliver this project however there will be a tightly managed             project plan that will ensure that the various marketing, press, production and evaluation             elements are in place. In recognition of the tight timeline we are working with Regeneration         and Environment to secure the required staffing resource.

Financial comments

5.1    The total expenditure of up to £350k for the delivery of the Public Realm Campaign in March 2016 will be funded by from existing 2015/16 budgets within the GLA (£200k from the Events for London programme budget (£50k), virements from the Regeneration programme (£12k MRF General & £13k London Great Outdoor underspend) and the Environment Programme budget (£125k)) and Partners contributions (£150k). 

5.2    The table below details the expenditure and funding for the campaign. Budget holders have     confirmed that the above budget is available. 

Internal Funding


Events for London


Regeneration Policy Team


Environment Policy Team


Total Internal Funding




Plus Partner contributions to delivery (including sponsorship)

Up to £150,000



Seed Funding Grants


Flagship Event Funding Grant


Partner led delivery and sponsorship activation

Up to £150,000

Communications campaign


Audience Research & Evaluation


Total Expenditure

£200,000 - £350,000




5.3    The commitment of expenditure over and above the GLA contribution of £200k is subject to     confirmation of the receipt of external income. Officers are reminded to ensure that they do not     commit the GLA to expenditure above what has been approved and, if less income is secured from     external sources, the programme will be reduced to match the level of external funding achieved.

5.4    The previous approvals in place are MD1429 & MD1056 for the Environment budget and ADD213     and MD1092 for the regeneration budgets.   

5.5    All appropriate budget adjustments will be made.

Investment and Performance Board

7.1    Papers were approved in principle with endorsement from the monitoring officer at the IPB meeting     on Friday 20 November 2015.


Planned delivery approach and next steps



ITT for Grant Funding


Grant Funding Agreements


Press Announcement

Early Feb

Marketing campaign delivery starts

Mid Feb

Festival delivery start date

Friday 18 March

Festival delivery end date

  • GLA funded activity end date


  • Festival activity end date


Sunday 20 March


Monday 28 March

Final evaluation start and finish