Changing Places, Changing Lives

Article

CUCR have been working with London and Quadrant Housing on a research project which aims to help the housing association sector understand it’s impact on communities and develop ways of systematically measuring this.

A photo of the front of our offices on St. James.

The research examines seven London neighbourhoods which span two periods in urban governance: the area based initiatives of the new Labour government which aimed to regenerate and ‘renew’ specific neighbourhoods characterised by large swathes of public housing; and the current housing policy of the Coalition Government which places an emphasis on decentralisation and Localism (rather than centralised spatial strategies).

About the project

With the demise of regeneration monies such as SRB and NDC and the considerable cuts to the budgets of local authority services, the ability of social landlords to attract mobile capital, nurture indigenous capacity and talent and provide community resources at this time is particularly significant as they shape urban neighbourhoods.  The research clearly points to extensive impacts upon the social and cultural landscapes that L&Q is working within. As developers, L&Q clearly have a commitment to not merely developing better homes but also to creating better neighbourhoods for the residents living in them, through partnerships with local agencies and stakeholders.

The title of the report, Changing Places, Changing Lives resonates with some of the strongest themes of the research. L&Q are working in parts of London undergoing tremendous change as the built environment transforms, bringing a new level of density to urban centres and the associated changes to local demographics. Many of the areas studied are characterised by population growth which is over 4 times the national average and more then double the population increase of London as a whole.

The mixed tenure communities which are brought into being through these processes need careful weighting and management if they are to be truly interactive and viable ‘mixed communities’. The title of the report invokes the ways that housing associations as agents of urban change, in their role as developers, landlords and neighbourhood managers, impact on the lives of Londoners beyond bricks and mortar in this urban context. Social housing providers therefore carry the responsibility of ensuring that these changes are widely beneficial to the people whose lives are affected.

About the research

The research was conducted by Alison Rooke, Imogen Slater and Gerald Koessl at the Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR) and Susan Lelliott of Real Strategies Ltd. It was carried out over a period of 4 months. This tight timeframe shaped the research methodology The research employed a mixed methodology, and given the necessity of evidencing impact retrospectively, has drawn on quantitative and qualitative data from a range of sources. . The research was weighted towards desk-based research methods, and reliant on data provided by L&Q. The results of this desk research was then triangulated through a number of site visits and targeted interviews with L&Q staff and a small number of local stakeholders.  

The research comprised of six main activities: 

  • Rooting the exercise within the organisation by building relationships with staff.
  • Gathering and assimilating L&Q regeneration scheme performance evidence.
  • Setting the indicators for regeneration impact by creating an impact assessment framework (IAF) drawn up with reference to national neighbourhood indicators and available L&Q data and available census data sets.
  • Profiling six of the seven selected neighbourhoods using the framework (the seventh lacked sufficient evidence for profiling).
  • Testing the IAF, and adding to the profiles via contextualizing neighbourhood research, site visits, and interviews with staff residents and stakeholders.
  • Interpreting findings and reporting on them.

After a meeting with London Housing and regeneration professionals in June, the research report was then used to inform a survey launched by the Guardian Housing Network questionnaire . The Research was launched at the Chartered Institute of Housing Annual Conference in June.

More information

For more information please contact Alison Rooke at a.rooke@gold.ac.uk.