The key requirement of good impact measurement is co-creation

At the end of 2020, AKOU was appointed by Lambeth Council to measure and monitor the impact of one of their projects in Brixton – the revitalisation of the Brixton Rec Quarter. Alongside the need to evaluate the impact of the regeneration project itself, there’s also the need to understand the many stories attached to that site. What the site has been to long-standing business owners and community members; and the hopes of those members as well as new generations of young people, start-ups and local enterprises.

Impact measurement is worthwhile when it… 

  • tells an inspiring story and influences future behaviour change and decision making. 
  • ensures people are seen, understood and respected. 
  • identifies what went right and what can be built upon to make more of a positive impact next time. 

Many regeneration programmes can have a negative impact on local communities. And Brixton has definitely been struggling with contentious development projects over the years. This issue runs deep throughout the whole of London, from the central zones right to the outer edges. As we navigate out of this pandemic, we need to ensure that future regeneration projects don’t drive people away from the places they call their homes. 

Benefits for the local area and its people

The £4m scheme focused on Regenerating the Brixton Rec Quarter, will deliver public realm improvements for Brixton Station Road and its street market. It will provide new shop fronts for retailers in the Rec. Part-funded by the GLA’s Good Growth Fund, the project aims to deliver benefits for the area and local people. For example, this includes improving local employment in the area and making it a welcoming space for all. 

As part of a three-year engagement, AKOU will work with local stakeholders to co-create a bespoke Impact Measurement Framework and a set of indicators. Throughout the duration of the project, they will help to understand, measure and evaluate the impact of the changes. 

Above all, we’re excited to be working on this project as the council has committed to taking a co-design approach. We will work alongside the appointed design team, muf architecture/art. They have been building relationships with local businesses and traders over the last year. Together, they started to explore what improvement really means to people working on the site. Muf’s approach sees consultation as an art form in its own right. They make time for honest conversations and explorations.

AKOU’s process of co-creation

We are in the first stage of this project, but will soon release a first draft of the Impact Measurement Framework. The AKOU team has spent time examining all consultation data and information that’s currently available to see what stories the data tells. Also, we scrutinised the data with regards to the representation of the diverse communities that work and socialise on the site. 

Next, we will open the conversation further up. We want to understand what the impact measurement framework needs to entail for it to be truly useful. As a result, it can help to guide the community as well as the council through this development process. 

Lots of projects require impact measurement and evaluation and it can seem like a box-ticking exercise. But it should be more than that. At AKOU we ensure that the local community can play their crucial part in stating the desired impact. We co-create the impact measurement process so that the changes can feel like enrichments to people’s everyday lives. Together with the council’s team and the design team, AKOU commits to ensuring that this development benefits the Brixton’s community.