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Down Lane Park: Kick-starting a Community Design Group

Posted on 16 February 2022

Written by:

Jake Stephenson-Bartley

February 2022

Haringey Council is working with residents and community partners to deliver a new vision for Down Lane Park in Tottenham. The park provides seven hectares of green space, which is loved and well-used by the local community, but is in need of some love and improvements to ensure it is able to continue to function effectively. The Glass-House was invited by the project team to deliver a full-day workshop to Down Lane Park’s Community Design Group (CDG) earlier this month, helping to kick-off the project journey with a fun and playful session.

The full-day workshop explored collaborative design with and for a wide range of users and stakeholders in general terms by using an iteration of our Design by Consensus activity. Focusing on the guiding values and principles for Community Design Groups, we introduced an approach and some tools that can be used to talk about the future of Down Lane Park.

One of the groups discussing the design of an anonymised public space.

Design by Consensus Activity

The Design by Consensus activity was designed by The Glass-House in 2006, and takes participants through a task to co-design a public space using an anonymised site. Participants are asked to step into diverse stakeholder roles, each representing a group with an interest in the site, and to negotiate on their behalf. As these stakeholders, they must work together to explore what is important to the people and organisations in the area in order to co-design a shared public space on the site. You can read more about Design by Consensus here

We utilised this activity within the Down Lane Park kick-off workshop to introduce design ideas and principles, explore a wide range of stakeholders and how collaborative design can work in practice. 

Shared ambitions, concerns, tensions and a Vision statement based off the stakeholder roles the participants stepped into

Co-designing Principles and Values for Collaboration

During the workshop, we also explored what Community Design Groups are, using examples from our previous projects such as Granville New Homes, New Union Wharf and Broadwater Farm Estate to illustrate the different models for CDGs and how they can contribute to the design process. 

It was important within this first meeting of Down Lane Park’s CDG to collectively develop guiding principles and values for their future collaboration through the project journey. By sharing individual reflections, the group was able to build a large collective set of key values and principles, before using a ‘bullseye’ circular diagram to identify a hierarchy of guiding principles for the group to utilise moving forward.

The participants clustering their general values and principles for a CDG

Future Project Journey 

To bring the day to a productive close, we co-chaired a discussion (with Lisa Taylor from Coherent Cities, who will be working with the group as a facilitator) about how the members of the Down Lane Park CDG would like to work with the appointed design team. This was an open conversation involving everyone in the room who represented local groups, council staff and elected members. Some key themes that emerged were the importance of the clarity of the design process, access to information and the accessibility of that information, as well as a desire to create an environment for sharing and learning.

What’s Next?

The conversations that were facilitated during this kick-off workshop will hopefully begin to inform how members of the Down Lane Park CDG think about themselves as a group, how they want to work together going forward, as well as how they want to collaborate with the wider local community and the design team. The workshop aimed to empower them with tools to discuss Down Lane Park within this  improvement project, and we are excited to see the group continue to collaborate together. The Glass-House wishes Down Lane Park CDG the best of luck in the future of their project.

One of the groups co-design of an anonymised public space.
One of the groups design discussions and collaging of an anonymised site