Connected Communities – Supporting Inclusive Recovery in London

The Connected Communities – Supporting Inclusive Recovery in London is a research and knowledge exchange initiative funded through the University’s Transformation Grant Scheme between May and August 2021. The project is led by Professor Diana Stirbu, who specialises in policy and governance at the School of Social Professions, and is focused on inclusive engagement between local authorities and their constituent communities and will explore London’s local authorities’ approach and capability to embedding community engagement within their recovery plans. It builds on the successful delivery of a year-long peer learning programme for regeneration and social integration officers in London's local authorities (the Social Integration and Regeneration Learning Network). Read more information on our blog.

Professor Stirbu explained, "The aim of the project is to better understand barriers and enablers towards meaningful and inclusive engagement between London's local authorities and the communities they serve.

"Through research and knowledge exchange activities we test and shape a guiding framework for community engagement that can support regeneration teams in local authorities in pursuing inclusive recovery under the High Streets and Stronger Communities missions in London’s Recovery Programme."

“This work is consistent with the key strategic priorities for London Met and demonstrates the University's commitment to empowering London communities and supporting our London partners to address our capital's social and economic challenges."

The project in context

As a city, London is facing the most challenging period in recent history. The economic, social and health impact of the pandemic cannot be overstated. The disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on different communities has further exacerbated deep-seated inequalities. There has been a particular effect on local economies and high streets and the services that London boroughs and the Greater London Authority deliver have been put under significant pressure. There is an urgent need to:

  • restore confidence in the city
  • minimise the impact on London’s most vulnerable communities
  • rebuild the city’s economy and society

As the focus shifts towards recovery, it is clear that local governments will not be able to achieve the social, economic or environmental progress needed by relying on old forms of development.

What we are doing

The Connected Communities Project uses community engagement in regeneration as a starting point to frame its aims, objectives and sought outcomes. The project is primarily interested in the question of what ongoing meaningful and authentic engagement with London’s heterogeneous and diverse communities entails in the context of the current challenges and opportunities and the missions-based approach to recovery as laid out in the London Recovery Plan. The project is interested in gaining an understanding of how the current challenges and opportunities can be harnessed to strengthen and cultivate participatory local democracy and to put forward and put in practice a transformative vision that is aimed at regeneration by common endeavour and alternative approaches to keeping wealth in the local economy, thus counteracting economic insecurity and inequality. In doing so, the project seeks to support the collaboration between local authorities and their residents/communities to enable a strong civil society.

The project will develop around two strands:

  • Through document analysis and qualitative primary research we examine narratives and practices of community engagement within the context of regeneration work in London boroughs with the view to identify gaps and potential needs London local authorities face in terms of designing and implementing effective and meaningful community engagement strategies that would support reshaping London’s built environment (mainly town centres and high streets).

  • Through knowledge exchange activities we explore themes such as the transition from impact of the crisis to recovery, community engagement between non-participation and empowerment, towards a citizen science place-making agenda and community wealth building together with our network members.

Image credit: Alex Fordham, 2021. Unit 12, Postgraduate Architecture

Geometric design of a street map


Prof Diana Stirbu
Project Leader Policy and Governance

Sally Kneeshaw
Project Consultant Regeneration

Dr Natasha Choudary
Early Career Researcher

Dr Silke Zschomler
Research Fellow

Angela Warner
Project Intern


If you want to contact the project team, ask for further information or get involved in the knowledge exchange events, please email us:

Keep up to date with our work

You can read more about our work on our Social Integration and Regeneration @LondonMet Lab blog.


Events and seminars from the Connected Communities

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