As we celebrated the recent launch of the 105 Victoria Street Social Value initiative, we reflect on our time working on this wonderful project.
In 2019, The Southside Unit Trust (a subsidiary business of Bentall Green Oak) appointed Kanda to undertake community engagement on plans to redevelop 95-105 Victoria Street.
Bound by roads and pedestrian routes on all sides, the site accommodated a single thirteen-storey building, comprised of two storeys of retail space (including a House of Fraser department store) and eleven storeys of office space.
Kanda engaged with local residents and workers, and visitors to the area, as well as community groups, local schools and political stakeholders, in tandem to pre-application meetings with Westminster City Council (WCC) planning officers.
We engaged the local community in conversations about the pre-existing perceptions of the site, the local area, and local public spaces and services to identify how the redevelopment of 95-105 Victoria Street could provide meaningful benefits for the local community. With a developed understanding of local needs and wants, we began engaging the local community in the plans for the redevelopment of 95-105 Victoria Street and considered and responding to community feedback as the plans developed.
Over a 12-month period, Kanda utilised many methods to reach and engage stakeholders in the project including: postal correspondence; briefings; public exhibitions; and digital engagement through a dedicated project website and social media feeds.
A major milestone for the project was receiving unanimous approval by Westminster City Council for a new building featuring flexible workspace, with a portion designated affordable, fit for changing work patterns; flexible retail space; a flexible ‘Village Square’ and indoor space for use by local community groups and organisations; ample bicycle storage and a bicycle repairs shop; and landscaping.
Creating long-term partnerships with local schools and organisations
Through community engagement, Kanda established long-term partnerships between Bentall Green Oak and local schools and other organisations.
Kanda facilitated a Memorandum of Understanding between Bentall Green Oak and several local schools that included Bentall Green Oak’s commitments to:
• Support the curriculum by offering time and skills in design, sustainability, and local history
• Mentor local young people
• Host ‘meanwhile’ art and design competitions on-site
• Create a ‘meanwhile’ sports facility on-site
• Guarantee free-to-use access to a new outdoor ‘village square’ indoor flexible space that the schools plan to use for performances, concerts, exhibitions, and PE lessons.
Our engagement with the local community was celebrated as part of the planning application and recognised by the planning committee. Further to this, community engagement for the redevelopment of 95-105 Victoria Street has been described as an exemplar of early community engagement by Westminster City Council in the ‘Westminster City Council – Early Community Engagement Guidance’ published in 2022.