What Does Harm Reduction in the Built Environment Look Like?

Status: In Progress
United Kingdom - England and Wales
Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (s106) as it is currently implemented is not as participatory as it could be and therefore not fulfilling its full potential in delivering transformative social value. S106 agreements are a mechanism entered between a developer and a local planning authority as legal obligations to mitigate the impacts of a development proposal on existing communities and environment. Developers are obliged to comply with any conditions appended to the planning permission in order to make the proposal acceptable. This may include providing contribution to infrastructure.

Whilst the intention for s106 agreements are good in principle, in practice the decision-making process is often siloed and communities are left disenfranchised from the process. Community participation is often an afterthought to remediate short-term tension with residents and stakeholders. As a result, the public consultations overpromise the ambitions that lack commitment and do not result in tangible delivery and solutions, other than minor technical design requirements. Unfortunately, there is very little available resource to facilitate the connections for meaning public engagement in design. Architects as lead consultants often have limited fee to undertake the community conversations which can end up being an onerous tick boxing exercise, unable to fulfil its well intended purpose. Due to the fragmented relationships between parties within s106, communities can feel that planning policy is something that is done to them rather than in collaboration with them. As a result many communities lose trust in s106. 

This project aims to address the reciprocal and fragmented relationships between property developers, architects, councils, community led groups, activists and creative practitioners within the s106 ecosystem. The collective reimagination of future development in London will centre around how to make s106 more holistic, sustainable and integrated in a meaningful way.

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