After the last two years of Zoom calls and generally being stuck inside, myself, Ana and Maria took advantage of an actual in-person conference down in London last week for the TCPA Spring Stewardship Event at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre in South bank. 

The TCPA’s suite of guidance on delivering successful new communities spans a wide range of key issues, from planning and investment to delivery and longterm stewardship – so it was a great opportunity to interact with some of the key influencers in the field. Chaired by Mary Parsons (who was regrettably retiring from the position after this event), presentations came from the likes of Katy Lock (TCPA Director of Communities & Project Delivery) The Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP (Minster for Housing), and Pete Richmond (Chief Exec of Bournville Village Trust) who we have worked with on a few recent projects for BVT.

A holistic approach to long-term stewardship is something we are investing a lot of time in here at Define, especially when it comes to creating better places for people in new large scale garden community projects. The TCPA’s Tomorrow 125 project is a great resource, and looks at how exploring the Garden City idea can help us construct a pathway to a hopeful future based on a fairer society. Understanding the identity and DNA of a place, both from a physical and socioeconomic perspective is key. There will never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, so early engagement with the people who will actually live and work in the development is vital.

We need to be ambitious, but realistic about what is achievable – we need to communicate, share experience and learn from others – but most importantly be collaborative and inclusive in our approach to stewardship moving forward, so we can build sustainable communities where people can really thrive.

In many ways the topic is more prevalent now than it has ever been. As people begin to recover from the social and mental impacts of Covid, getting out and spending time interacting with others is essential to everyone’s wellbeing. And, in true Define style, we made time after the event to randomly explore the streets of London to see what gems could be found, with the Leake Street Arches Graffiti Wall, Vaulty Towers, and Pizza Pilgrims all highly recommended if you are ever in that part of town.