Seven years of community engagement across digital, print and in-person events is now feeding into the creation of a community forum of 20 representatives to help guide the delivery of social impact during phase one of the regeneration project alongside a Social Impact Charter.
Who is the developer/client of the project?
Grosvenor Britain & Ireland
Describe the context of this project in 250 words max. and please upload any image, drawings or reports that explain the initiative.
The focus of this project is a 12 acre site south of Bermondsey Station in the London Borough of Southwark. It comprises the majority of the former Peek Frean Biscuit Factory, adjacent to the former Lewisham and Southwark College campus.
Grosvenor secured planning consent in February 2020 after seven years of intensive community engagement. We are now on site with the first phase, starting to deliver 3 acres of new public and play space, a new secondary school with capacity for 600 pupils, 150,000 sqft of office space, a mix of community, retail and leisure uses and over 1,500 homes for rent, including more than 450 affordable homes. The project will be carbon neutral in terms of regulated operational emissions and will have biodiverse green roofs and terraces.
For many years previously, the Biscuit Factory had been an under-utilised brownfield site, but the area has strong social infrastructure, with a multitude of local groups, charities, tenant associations and social enterprises. This rich mix of people and organisations has cultivated a strong sense of belonging and in many respects a supportive close-knit community with high levels of neighbourliness and a strong sense of attachment to the place.
We know this from months and years of personal investment by our team meeting, listening and learning from the different communities. We commissioned an in-depth social sustainability assessment from a research practice based in the borough. This meant we had empirical data and academic insights to complement our growing awareness of people’s lived experience.
How does this project enable the community to make a meaningful contribution to a place? 250 words max. Please attach an image or other documentation of the project, or context, that supports your statement.
The initial phases of our engagement programme deliberately did not address the specific requirements of the planning process. Instead, we focused on developing partnerships and becoming involved in the life of Bermondsey.
We worked to build trust and be enablers of community ideas, becoming founding partners of a community kitchen and an employment hub and partnered with a Friends group of the local park and the Bede Youth Club.
We set about hearing and recording the community’s hopes and aspirations. This included an artist’s mural attached which came out of a community workshop mapping local social infrastructure.
We developed a range of tools and means of engaging which included newsletters for 10,000 households, a popular website, consultation events attended by almost 1,000 people, and an on-site community space, offered free of charge to community organisations, including Brownie groups and local charities.
We were an early digital pioneer on this site. Grosvenor was one of the first developers using Commonplace to jointly map how people experienced the neighbourhood, and we used augmented reality to increase understanding of and contribution to the proposals.
The outcomes from each consultation phase were consistently reported back to the community and representatives routinely invited to give their views. This had a real material impact. An example, the location of the school was initially proposed on the western edge of the site but concerns were raised about the suitability of its location and so it was moved to the centre of the site in a prime location.
How will the community engagement be taken forward? Have you actively responded to their contribution and continued the conversation, facilitating their continued involvement? 250 words max. Please attach an image of the project that supports your statement.
Prior to submitting planning we developed a ‘Local Legacy Strategy’ for the site which sets out our approach to maximising the long-term social and economic opportunities generated through the proposals. It has already guided investment of almost £500,000 in programmes designed to help address four key themes: Community Wellbeing, Education, Employment & Skills and Business & Enterprise.
Since securing consent, that strategy has evolved into a brand new Social Impact Plan which launches this summer. We have also set up a new Community Forum of c20 community representatives to help guide delivery of this work during Phase 1 of the regeneration (from 2021-2025). With that group, we are currently co-designing a training and mentoring programme to enhance their own skills, broaden community involvement and develop local leaders.
In addition, we have initiated a research programme to measure the personal & economic wellbeing of those that live and work in Bermondsey over the long-term. We have started to test the insights with the community themselves so we have a shared understanding and will be baselining the data to provide hard evidence on our joint social impact.
This approach has been used by Southwark Council to underpin their own Social Regeneration Charter for the neighbourhood – which is another example of how our approach is helping deliver positive local outcomes both within the red line and well beyond the site.
Please share any reports, news clippings, data or figures that support your entry, for example reach, news clippings, reports. You may also attach an additional image or document to support your entry.
A snapshot taken from a speech given by a community stakeholder at the GLA meeting.
“…I can say without a doubt that they have been more passionate and involved in the local community that any other developer we have dealt with.”
Shannon Donovon, Bermondsey Community Kitchen