Inclusive impact: how can we build consensus for change?


Following on from our recent panel discussion with Civic Engineers at UKREiiF here are a few of the key talking points explored.

How can we build consensus for change? This was the question posed to our industry experts during our UKREiiF  ‘Inclusive Impact’ panel at the Industry in Focus pavilion.

Chaired by CEO and co-founder of Civic  Stephen O’Malley the panel participants included:

  • Cathy Palmer – Director of regeneration delivery, Walker Sime
  • Katherine Fairclough – Chief executive, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
  • Pooja Agrawal – Chief executive officer, Public Practice
  • Kevin Logan – Director, Maccreanor Lavington

Some of the key talking points shared by our panel included:

Cathy Palmer: “It’s all about building trust with communities and bringing them along on the journey. Some programmes can take ten to fifteen years, so it’s going to take a long time for communities to see change.

“Creating community panels to facilitate long-term projects is key to addressing this, and we took this approach with the strategic masterplan for the regeneration of Birkenhead. When the masterplan was adopted, it was one that the local community then felt that they owned.”

Kevin Logan: “We’re reaching peak population for the planet, so the question is how to we improve it and make more equitable environments. As an industry we must look at bringing communities along right from the beginning.

“And we need to be accountable, looking at what our impacts are as early as we can – not just focussing on the end point. We must move beyond silos into interdisciplinary working, get immersive and find different mechanisms of assessing value. We must look at positive impact, happiness, wellbeing and pleasantness as KPIs when we assess the true cost and impact.”

Katherine Fairclough: “Building trust is a real challenge, and so much of this is how we foster better communications and engagement. Face-to-face community-based activities can make a big difference. It’s vital we remember how great community development can inform planning.

“The challenges we face in the short term are around the planning horizon and how funding flows through. We need a new conversation that has a better understanding of long-term outcomes and sustainable solutions. And we need greater devolution of power to the regions alongside a better understanding of the ways in which communities thrive, and for this to be embedded into planning policy.”

Pooja Agrawal: “Since the pandemic, there has been greater understanding of the connections between health and place, which is helping to change previously siloed approaches. Everything needs to be linked and looked at in a much more holistic way. Taking housing as one example, it is a tool that touches multiple issues, and we need to see it as a systemic issue that needs to be looked at holistically.

“There’s much more to be done when it comes to creating places that are well designed, good quality and where everyone feels like they belong. To support the public sector, we must try to change perceptions of planning, and help to build diverse placemaking skills and empathy to encourage innovation.”

Stephen O’Malley: “Lifestyles have changed dramatically in recent years, with more people working from home and accessing services and amenities on their doorstep. We need to rethink our urban landscapes to serve these different types of patterns, whilst also making them climate resilient.

“Projects such as the redevelopment of New Islington and the Mayfield scheme in Manchester, the Gascoigne Estate in London and the Cobh nature-based solutions pilot in County Cork, show how long-term regeneration and projects that focus on bringing different stakeholders, communities and industry colleagues together to collaborate in one cohesive system, can deliver immensely positive results and additional value for the environment and the people that live there.”

Thank you to our collaborators and  panellists and to everyone who attended. See you next year.



Maccreanor Lavington's Kevin Logan with Katherine Fairclough, Chief executive, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority with Stephen O'Malley.
Debate at UKREiiF 2024