Royal Borough of Greenwich

Winter 2015

The challenge

Royal Borough of Greenwich introduced the Greenwich Homes Standard in 2014, following the Decent Homes scheme, aimed at “bringing residents’ homes up to the highest modern day standards… [and] improve the standard of [Greenwich] housing and the quality of life for tenants”. One of the first areas to benefit from its changes is the Barnfield Estate in Plumstead, one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the borough. Before commencing the improvements, the council wanted to engage, so as to better understand residents and ensure that ongoing progress was communicated in the most appropriate way. This had to be achieved on site, during the winter, in a short timeframe.

How we approached it

We devised a door-to-door survey approach, with a questionnaire that tackled broader issues of identity and place. We designed a programme of door-knocking that would ensure every door on the estate was knocked, with follow up visits at more convenient times for individual households. To incentivise participation, we arranged a postal response option via Freepost, and offered a cash prize to one random recipient. Against a backdrop of short daylight hours and poor weather, we engaged 53% of all households, gathering rich insight.

What happened

The findings revealed a highly aspirant local community, who lacked pride in their homes and their estate as a place, but valued a strong community spirit and comradery. We also discovered that there was a key ‘lost’ cohort of residents, aged 25-34, who were consistently more dissatisfied with their neighbourhood than others. We ultimately reached high proportions of residents, and spoke to people from across the wide range of demographic groups on the estate, developing a complex but compelling picture of resident values, hopes and concerns.