Newham Council has successfully secured financial support from the Proptech Innovation Fund. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities established the Fund in August 2021.
Newham Council is just one of the 15 local authorities that has qualified for £100,000 worth of funding, totalling £3.2 million from the Government. This latest funding announcement is part of the Government’s third round of financial support. Newham Council intends to use the money to enhance its resident engagement platform and improve digital citizen engagement within planning processes.
Newham is located at the heart of Britain’s fastest growing economic region. The Olympic legacy at Stratford and London’s only Enterprise Zone at the Royal Docks are bringing thousands of new knowledge-based jobs in cutting edge industries to the area.
However, these world-leading developments lie immediately adjacent to some of the most deprived communities in the whole country, with 50% of residents living in poverty.
These communities are being left behind — despite significant growth and innovation on their doorsteps, they are disconnected from the growth areas both physically (poor walking and cycling access), economically (few local residents getting high value jobs) and culturally (low engagement in cultural activities and civic life). Neither are they connected to the support or spaces needed to develop their own enterprises.
Newham Council has now received two rounds of funding from the Proptech Innovation Fund. Newham Co-create, the resident engagement and consultation platform that the council utilises, was supported by last year’s allocation of £125,000 and it has helped to shape the vision for a new neighbourhood and town centre in Beckton Riverside. This project symbolised the largest regeneration opportunity in the borough, bringing the potential for a further 1,000 new homes, as well as new public realm, public transport improvements, and community facilities.
The council will now spend the next 12 to 18 months working alongside the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to improve the way that consultation data is visualised and processed.
Newham Council’s response
A spokesperson from Newham Council stated that ensuring residents are involved in the decision-making process underpins their community wealth-building strategy. The council aims to continue their participatory practice by “utilizing the enhanced Newham Co-create engagement tool, which will be undergoing technological improvement”. This will allow the council to further co-produce and develop the community vision while establishing the social, economic, and environmental components of the new neighbourhood with the residents’ full involvement.
Newham Council is also looking to increase innovation in the community through the Newham Sparks Data Campus. This initiative aims to use data to drive innovation and transformational change, promoting economic growth and social progress. The Data Campus will provide a collaborative workspace for local businesses, researchers, and community organisations, enabling them to work together on a range of social issues.
The notion of ‘levelling up’ has been a huge part of the Conservative Party’s discourse in the past few years. Newham Council’s continued involvement with the Proptech Innovation Fund is an indication of their commitment to community engagement and the use of technology to improve the planning process. With the use of the Co-create platform and the Newham Sparks Data Campus, the council is aiming to foster innovation and collaboration within the community, leading to better outcomes for residents.