As a member of the Phase 2 Design Group, Shaip has been instrumental in helping architects Conran and Partners understand the needs of Wornington Green’s residents, and he has seen first-hand how their suggestions and requests have been incorporated into the plans for the new homes.
“We’ve given our feedback on things like layout, communal areas and the types of windows and doors that are used,” says Shaip, “and where possible adjustments have been made to reflect our opinions. It’s like having a tailored suit: if you want it to fit you well, then you have to get involved while it’s being made.”
Even elements of Phase 2 not entirely under the architects’ control are looked into, and adjusted if at all practicable and reasonable. Shaip continues: “One area we asked about was the balconies. The plans included recessed balconies, in line with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s design guidelines for the area, but we asked if it was possible to have them extending out from the building. The architects said they could only do it with the Borough’s permission, but they’ve now asked them and we’re waiting to hear back. It’s a sign of how willing people are to listen to our requests.”
Shaip first moved to Wornington Green in April 2000, since when he has become an important part of the community and, in his own words, “from a house made a home” with his family. It was the independent tenants’ adviser who originally suggested to Shaip that he might want to be involved with the Phase 2 Design Group, and despite not being scheduled to move himself until the Phase 3 of the regeneration, he decided to give it a go.
The group, which has met 4 times to date has up to 12 members, but as not everyone can make it to every session the number of attendees is typically around six or seven. “It’s important to get involved in things such as this that are affecting your community,” says Shaip, “and we’re learning things all the time. There’s elements of Phase 2 that are improvements on Phase 1, and I’m sure by the time the plans for Phase 3 are being drawn up we will have learned some further lessons from our current experience. Everything builds on what went before.”
With the first residents now moved into Block 1, and work continuing on the remaining buildings within Phase 1, there is more and more interest in how the new homes are going to look. “At the start, when I first joined the Phase 2 Design Group, people perhaps didn’t think the regeneration was actually going to take place, and as a result weren’t that interested in giving their opinions and thoughts to anyone,” says Shaip. “But now they can see the buildings rising, and they have friends and neighbours that have moved into their new homes, they realise they have a chance to shape the future of their community. People are generally more keen to provide their input, with Phases 2 and 3 better-suited to residents’ needs as a result.”