We were engaged to support and advise the local community about the different regeneration proposals to improve Imperial Wharf.
Haringey Council wanted to bring investment and improve the estate which sits on the north bank of the Thames in a premier riverside location. The options on the table included stock transfer and redevelopment. It was essential that local people understood the various proposals and had the opportunity to influence the future of their neighbourhood.
After previous unproductive consultations local people told us they did not fully understand what each regeneration proposal entailed. Our marker for success was set; we had to build trust with the local community and empower all residents with a clear understanding of each option before they were asked to vote.
We worked to ensure as many residents as possible were involved in the consultation process, understood the proposals and had the opportunity to contribute their ideas for the future of their neighbourhood.
Our first goal was to strengthen the newly established Residents Steering Group (RSG) so members could be effective resident advocates during the regeneration process. We ran regular workshops to equip RSG members with relevant skills and knowledge to aid them in their role as community advocates and empower them to effectively disseminate useful information to their neighbours.
We wanted to engage all residents to outline their ‘ vision’ of the future estate to ensure that any future plans matched the aspirations of local people. To achieve this we carried out a door-to-door survey and held a community-visioning day. This resulted in a clear, resident-led vision of key priorities that the regeneration should address.
We then held tenure specific workshops, drop-ins, culturally specific focus groups, and home visits to ensure local people understood the implications of each various option.
A public meeting was held to show how the RSG, with our support, had cross-examined each option against residents’ priorities to see which option would best deliver the estate vision.
During our work, we adapted our approach to meet the needs of the community and ensure we effectively engaged with residents who were more difficult to reach.
For residents unable to attend public meetings and workshops we held small, informal gatherings of groups of friends or neighbours in their own homes, as well as organising regular home visits to update vulnerable residents on our progress.
To improve communication with the RSG, and increase residents’ influence and involvement in decision making, we created a specialised subgroup. These members were responsible for holding us to account and having the final say on our approach to engaging the wider community. This really strengthened our relationship with the community and gave the RSG a sense of ownership over the project.
We built a strong and effective relationship with the RSG, and successfully involved a wide demographic of residents throughout this project. Residents now have a clear understanding of what it means to undergo each option, in terms of the time they would take, the level of disruption they would cause, the benefits they would bring, and the long-term effects they would have on residents.
"The approach NewmanFrancis took was very resident focused. From the start they showed their commitment to making sure as many residents as possible understood the options; holding home visits and organising interpreters for those who couldn’ t come to public meetings and workshops. They ran RSG workshops and kept regular contact with us to make sure that residents were influencing and involved in the process. They have been our strong advocates throughout, and have maintained their independence from the council through difficult decisions. Their main concern has always been making sure that the residents’ views were heard and taken in to account by the decision makers in the council" – Esther Hainey, RSG and monitoring group member