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Webinar on strategies for Co-Design / Working with Residents hosted by Urban Design London (UDL)

By Sarah Jones- Morris and Katie Lea

Following our ACD director Dr Jo Morrison's presentation to the UDL summer school, ACD directors Katie Lea and Sarah Jones-Morris were invited to speak by the UDL as part of a webinar on Working with Residents for the public sector on the 6th of October 2022.

There was a great line-up of speakers, including Sophia de Sousa from The Glasshouse, Catherine Greig from Make Good, and our ACD member Laura Alvarez from CoPlace/Nottingham City Council. Tom Mitchell of Metropolitan Workshop, Mellis Haward of Archio Architects and Kate Batchelor from Peabody Trust.

Although engagement and co-design are key for built environment professionals (with various research, guidance and planning policies locally and nationally citing the critical need for engagement), it is still not mandatory for planning applications in England. However, there are more and more guidance and resources available for communities and practitioners (

Fellow contributors (including a local resident!) shared their experience of community design panels and various vital processes, toolkits, learnings, mistakes, and methods to guide practitioners in engagement from the public and private sectors.

The key outcomes from the various talented and knowledgeable people presenting:

  • The creative design process can be scary and misunderstood, which can lead to a reluctance to people being involved; communication and language are key

  • Gaining trust is a critical part of the engagement process; this can take time

  • RIBA plan of work for engagement is a much-needed framework (ACD are working with Sustrans Scotland and RIBA to co-produce a RIBA Plan of Work technical overlay for engagement). Many presenters have been researching this topic; some are part of our RIBA Plan of Work working group.

  • There are challenges and barriers along the way, which is why accountability and transparency are crucial.

  • We must be upfront with communities about the extent to which they have scope for change.

  • Many methods and approaches must be fit for purpose, time, and resources.


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