The Liveable Streets programme is part of Tower Hamlets’ Love Your Neighbourhood initiative which aims to improve the area for all by making changes to the street infrastructure. By reallocating road space to walking, cycling and public transport, the scheme encourages changes in travel behaviour which will help to improve people’s health and well-being as well as contributing positively towards the local environment by helping to reduce air pollution. The scheme also aims to restrict ‘rat running’ to improve the safety of residential streets, particularly in relation to active travel users in these areas. Over a four-year period, 17 areas across the borough have been identified for the scheme.
Consultation and engagement was split into three phases. Phase 1 consisted of early engagement and was largely made up of a perception survey in conjunction with an interactive map, which was used to gather preliminary thoughts from local residents and business owners to gather initial concerns or issues they may have within the area allowing the project designers to better understand the needs of the community. Other key engagement activities generally used include the following:
- Councillor briefings
- Meetings with key stakeholder groups
- Workshops with local schools
- Drop-in sessions
- Face to face conversations with businesses
- Business cards to cyclists
Following this, two-hour long workshops were later organised with local stakeholders from the local community to present and go over initial concept designs which were based on the feedback of the early engagement surveys and pre-engagement feedback (phase 2). The aims of the workshops were to:
- Raise awareness of the programme
- Provide feedback on the early engagement and survey work undertaken
- Understand further the issues and concerns in the area from residents
- Discuss potential proposals and receive feedback
- Discuss aspirations for the area that can be included in the programme.
The workshops were very productive and informative sessions for both the project team and the local community. For schemes such as Barnet Grove in Bethnal Green, the information received through the workshops was collated and directly fed into the development of two alternative proposed closures at Barnet Grove.
When schemes enter the public consultation stage all residential and business addresses within a given radius/area receive a ‘consultation pack’ containing consultation documents, including surveys as well as all the information being available online on our dedicated platform. Furthermore, we organised additional engagement events were organised by the Liveable Streets team – due to the Covid-19 outbreak, additional engagement events were hosted virtually. Activities for virtual events have included ‘virtual drop in events’, hosted via zoom or phone call.
Additional methods of engagement were used to raise wider awareness, particularly towards the benefits of active travel. The Liveable Streets team organised school based competitions during the construction phase of the project to engage with children and the schemes wider community to create positive awareness and interest across the youngest demographics in the project area, projects included both a poetry and banner design competition, which will have driven discussion amongst teachers to pupils and amongst pupils particularly surrounding the benefits of why they like active travel, and why it is better for themselves and their friends and family.
The first scheme in Bethnal Green, is currently being built.