Early and open engagement is the key to Hounslow’s successful regeneration, delegates heard at the first London West round table.
UK Property Forums (UKPF) teamed up with the London Borough of Hounslow for the DevComms-sponsored event on April 20 at Hounslow House, involving some of the most significant names in development in the borough.
Speaking in response to a question by meeting chair Matthew Battle, managing director of UKPF, about how gentrification can be avoided with so much regeneration in the borough, council leader Cllr Shantanu Rajawat told delegates:
” When I took the role, I wanted to move the council closer to residents. It’s not about consulting Just to get a certain answer but being open to the answers we may not have thought of or discounted.”
Cllr Tom Bruce, the cabinet member for regeneration and development, said: “Engagement is a constantly evolving process. Are we presenting these things in the right way?
“We are giving a steer to officers, colleagues and residents on the direction of travel, and it’s not a fait a complis.
“When I meet with developers, I tell them you need to speak to people early, and we can help with that. It’s got to be about meaningful engagement, and it can mean different things to different people.”
Ben Johnson. planning director of Inland Homes spoke about the regeneration of the Cavalry Barracks, a project delivering 1,500 homes and refurbishing 23 listed buildings in West Hounslow.
Inland Homes had been engaging and consulting with more than 3,000 stakeholders, including residents, businesses, Historic England and Sport England, receiving only 30 objections when the plans were finalised.
Meeting sponsor DevComms brought its own expertise to the debate.
Head of SouthEast, Paul Vicary said: “It’s about bringing the existing communities along the journey and identify the opportunities for them.”
Pavitar Mann, head of DevComms London, identified the benefits of being a London borough when compared to similar places in the Thames Valley.
Kate Woods, associate of planning consultancy DP9, spoke about the importance of engagement, stating: “It’s about relationships and fostering those in the long term.”
Mark Wood of Studio Moren, speaking from experience of engagement, said older people with more spare time tended to come to consultations while too few young people engaged.
It prompted discussion about ways of engaging with the younger generation, who are more open to change with social media and other tools.
Head of economic recovery and regeneration for the borough Kate Bull described how Hounslow had used Minecraft to engage with teenagers and helped geography teachers by setting projects for students to look at in local schools.
The discussion followed a passionate description of the borough and his role in the council by Cllr Rajawat. He spoke of his ambition for the borough and the importance of Local Plans in its regeneration.
He said: “Our local plans for towns contribute to a greener, healthier, cleaner, safer driving and liveable Hounslow.”
The discussion then moved on to transport and low-carbon neighbourhoods.
The delegates who attended where:
London Borough of Hounslow
Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, leader of the council
Cllr Tom Bruce, cabinet member for regeneration and development
Kate Bull, head of economic recovery and regeneration
Navjeet Natt, corporate public affairs manager
Pavitar Mann, head of London
Paul Vicary, head of South East
Ben Johnson director of planning, Inland Homes
Katherine Woods, associate, DP9
Mark Wood, partner, Studio Moren
Michael Righton, regional partner, RLB
Fenella Lloyd, associate dircetor,SEGRO
Mark Slater, director, WWA
UK Property Forums
Mathew Battle, managing director
Mike Lightfoot, editor London West
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