For years now, housing crisis has been a hot topic in London. It looks more or less like a David vs. Goliath situation ; with activists and local communities on one side and developers supported by foreign investors on the other side. Developers carry enormous budgets and can, therefore, afford to pay an army of lawyers, architects, consultants to ensure that their projects will be approved and actually built. But the one who call for affordable houses and fight to preserve their neighbourhoods threatened by real estate projects, can be overwhelmed by the complexity and opacity of planning procedures.
This is the reason why a group of architects from London recently launched Concrete Action. It is an online platform that helps communities and individuals by sharing crucial information about the planning system, recent development projects and provides tools to strengthen their campaigns, arguments or alternative proposals. How does it work? It is based on the same concept as WikiLeaks. Whistleblowers (professionals in the fields of planning, architecture or construction) share anonymously developers or municipalities’ plans, legislation proposals, strategies so the public can get an early access to these documents and prepare its actions accordingly.
“What we are doing is driven by a desire to create a level playing field in the realm of redevelopment. The planning process is widely touted as a public and accountable process – we do not believe that this is the case, therefore it is up to us to take matters into our own hands and try to force the process to become more public, more transparent and for the benefit of people living in affected areas rather than absent property owners, developers and investor conglomerates.”
Concrete Action also serves an educational purpose in that the website has sections that explain the planning process and technical aspects, how to interact with different stakeholders and use some legal instruments. It is also a collaborative platforms that connects professionals with activists who need any kind of support (advices, design, material etc.).
If you want to discover or contribute to this network, feel free to visit the website !