In this housing regeneration project, Building for Life criteria and presentations were successfully adapted to allow a residents group to understand and discuss issues around good design.
The project was run by Architecture Centre Devon and Cornwall, for Plymouth Community Homes. Beyond building capacity among residents in issues around design, specific aims were to encourage more people to be involved in the process, and to see if the 20 questions and existing Building for Life resources could be used to establish a common language between developers, planners, architects and residents.
There are lessons for anyone involved in community engagement work, particularly on mixed use or housing schemes, and for those who are looking for methods to support the localism agenda in planning policy or through community-led development programmes. This includes recommendations about strategies for using Building for life and specific comment on details and techniques for implementing ideas used in this project.
The experience at North Prospect shows that:
- Building for Life can help to establish a common language, build capacity and provide support which helps people participate actively in local and community-wide issues
- training with residents and community groups does not have to be substantially different to the standard Building for Life approach but further development is needed
- guidance and templates are still relevant but can benefit hugely from being tailored to the community involved
- training needs to be put into a wider context for recognising design quality and supplemented with work around understanding the qualities and character of existing neighbourhoods
- consistency and coordination across different organisations is vital
More about Community involvement through Building for Life: