LOT - London's Land Bank

LOT is a public digital platform that enables community stewardship of urban green space. It enables citizens to take up stewardship of land patches in their local area and convert un-used or neglected spaces into green micro-sites.

In Collaboration with

Type 

Service Design

User Research

Duration 

6 Months

Team 

2 People

Area

City Services

Urban Resilience

Green Infrastructure

Food Citizenship

 

A Public Digital Platform 

Concept

LOT is a land management and

co-maintenance platform that leads to

de-centralized management and use of green infrastructure at neighbourhood level.

 

We work with land owners (private, developers, council) to list tiny or big land patches on our platform that can be claimed by citizens as stewards, co-stewards or volunteers. A public digital platform, fed with geo-data of claimable land brings transparency in ownership and land use, thereby improving accessibility and making

it inclusive for all digital literates.​

How it works

Working alongside landowners, we standardise the terms and conditions of use of land and provide a digital contract for meanwhile use. These patches are listed on the digital platform that can then be claimed by citizens as 'stewards', 'co-stewards' or 'volunteers' on providing a proposal plan.

Main Features

The platform has three main features:

1. A lot to do: Via a digital map, citizens can view ongoing initiatives and find the right fit for them to volunteer.

2. Adopt a lot : Citizens can see the closest patch available to them and claim it upon presentation of a deserving project plan.

3. A lot to say: A community forum to express your opinion about what's going on LOT's

near you.

LOT does two things:

1. Helps landowners to manage urban land portfolios

2. Promotes community-led maintenance of micro-green-sites that

    can increase biodiversity in the local area and provide the possibility of growing food.

Green Infrastructure in Urban Planning

 

There is a rising interest in citizens for improving biodiversity in neighbourhoods and for better access to green spaces.

This was evident when several Councils declared Climate Emergencies, including Camden. However, urbanisation has massively reduced space for such endeavours and impacted citizen interaction. Additionally, budget cuts led councils to put maintenance of green spaces on low priority. Authorities, doctors and academics reaffirm the benefits that green spaces provide in terms of resilience to climate change, food security and health and wellbeing for those who interact actively with them.

Key Insights

 

We saw how part of the population is very proactive in regards to public open spaces and its usage.

From different voices we heard two main problems:

Lack of transparency in land ownership and management models

The absence of ways to meet and systematise the citizens' demand

In particular, we learnt a lot from two user stories :

1.Lou Downe's Story : Her mis-adventure with the Hackney Council 

2.Bassett Street incident :  Where an almost 10-year long food growing initiative involving 80 people has been taken down because 5 people from the neighbouring estate complaint.

Opportunity : User Journeys

 

Process : Discovery, Design, Testing

Discovery I - Ground Research

We closely interacted with 6 grassroot initiatives across London, that currently work in our area. Interviewing organisers and volunteers while also volunteering ourselves led to discovering systemic problems.

From our visits to Think & Do, Company Drinks, Incredible Edible, and The Conservation Volunteers, we established that despite creating a high community engagement they still struggle to reach wider communities and we identified the barriers to entry.

 “You can’t do community business by planting an already grown plant, you have to plant a seed and let it slowly grow with the help of the local environment”

-Alice from Grow Club

Discovery II - Co-creation & Validation

To test our hypothesis we used provocative exercises and future scenario mapping, in a multi-stakeholder workshop, that included Camden Council officers, initiative leaders, urban planners and local business owners. We narrowed our focus area to Repurposing of Land.

To know more about the workshop preparation and findings  view report

IMG_4433 (1).HEIC

Design : Product Development

To design user-centered solution, we used tools and techniques like user archetypes, jobs to be done, story boarding, user journeys etcetera

Testing : Prototyping in 3 parts

Part 1 : Digital Experience and Service Features

Remote testing of the digital experience of the service with early adopters using low fidelity prototypes . We built the wireframes and information architecture using Adobe XD and prototyped using Google docs to reduce the learning curve. Additionally we created a GIS map using dummy data to see the LOT finding experience of the service 

Part 2 : Interest Survey

To map the market demand for this service, we circulated an 'Interest Survey'. Apart from finding the interest of the users, it also helped us plot our users as per their likeliness to adopt the service, the role they could play and our early adopters profile.

Part 3 : Expert Feedback

An integral part of this project was to constantly get expert feedback on the service at different stages which led to mapping both opportunities and threats at an early stage. We want to thank experts who helped us through their guidance. 

Impact and Benefits

 

LOT makes London greener - Accounting for the impact of Natural Capital is a theme that has been explored extensively by the GLA in the last few years.  A greener city not only increases properties value and enhances air quality: it has been widely agreed by experts that interacting with green spaces is beneficial for people's mental and physical health. This provokes indirect savings for social care services such as NHS.

LOT fosters community stewardship of land - Community stewardship means that the community will take care of patches that were neglected or that were looked after by contractors. This brings savings from ground maintanance and less neglected spaces. Also, by establishing early on an one-for-all framework to assingn land, we envision to lower the number of conflicts due to different ways to see the use of certain patches.

LOT fosters local food security - COVID-19 and Brexit brought in the national debate food security. Urban food growing can't be the solution to feed the whole England but, certainly, could have a positive contribution.

A recent report by the Sheffield University has demonstrated how 15% of citizens could be provided of their five a day if 10% of Sheffield green spaces would be converted in food growing spaces.

© 2020 Astha Johri. All rights reserved.