Young people locked out of changes to their neighbourhood

  • New survey of young adults in the UK shows:
    • 89%1 have never been asked their opinion about the future of their neighbourhood
    • only 8% have taken part in a public consultation on plans for their area
    • but 82%2 say they want to be involved
  • To help young people influence how places are made and managed a national youth engagement toolkit is being launched by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Sport England, the TCPA and ZCD Architects
  • Toolkit backed on launch by 25 additional councils, developers, designers and youth sector organisations

Despite making up c25% of the population, and many being highly engaged in local and national issues, young people are routinely left out of discussions about the future of their neighbourhoods.

New research published today shows that 89%1 of young adults aged 16-18 have never been asked their opinion about their neighbourhood and just 8% have taken part in a public consultation.

Of those who have never been asked their opinion by a developer or council, the overwhelming majority (82%)2 said that they wanted the opportunity to be involved.

A new youth engagement toolkit, Voice.Opportunity.Power, launched today, aims to improve how professionals – designers, developers, councils and youth and sports organisations – can meaningfully engage young people in planning, development and regeneration.

Created by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, the TCPA, Sport England and ZCD Architects, the toolkit is a free resource with practical guidance on how to involve young people (aged 11-18) in the way that places are built and managed. It seeks to place them on an equal footing alongside other stakeholders in the process and responds directly to the Government’s call in the new planning White Paper for greater youth engagement.

Over 20 additional organisations including Conservative and Labour-led local authorities, developers such as British Land and Peabody and grassroots organisations like St Andrew’s (the oldest youth club in the world) have endorsed the toolkit. They all recognise that young people have a right to be involved and that their involvement creates better places for everyone – young and old alike.

James Raynor, CEO of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, commented: “If we want to support community success, then young people have to be part of the conversation. Obviously, they have a right to be involved. But they can also help us create and manage better places. That’s as true in Belgravia as it is in Liverpool or Leeds. For us as a property company, it’s a win/win situation.” 

Dinah Bornat, Director, ZCD Architects, added: “Our work on this toolkit is informed by the years we have spent on the ground engaging young people in the design process. We know these techniques work and our masterplans are better for it. It’s a great resource for architects and planners – use it!”  

Fiona Howie, Chief Executive, TCPA: “There is an urgent need to rebuild trust between communities and planners and communities and developers. Part of how we can do that is through genuinely involving people, especially those who aren’t normally involved in feeding into consultations, in shaping the future of their neighbourhood. We hope the toolkit will be an important resource that is widely used.”

Charles Johnston, Property Director at Sport England: Sport England believe the planning system and developers have an important role to play in helping children be active and continue positive habits throughout their lives. How people of all ages move around a neighbourhood can make a significant impact on our nation’s health, mental wellbeing and activity levels. This research and the toolkit launched today show how young people can be given more of a say in the design of local areas and how they get used and enjoyed.”


For more information, please contact:

Rachel Garstang, Head of Corporate Communications

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland

[email protected] / +44 (0) 7741 151 327

Notes to editors

1Has anyone (like your local council or a property developer) ever asked your opinion on the future of your neighbourhood? Yes: 59 No: 479

2 [If you answered ‘no’; to the question above] Would you like to be asked? Yes: 391 No: 88

About the research “I live here too” – click here to read in full

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland commissioned Beatfreeks, an insights agency focused on young people, to undertake a nationally representative survey of young adults in the UK to gain a better understanding of their views on activism and community engagement and how they felt about the opportunity to have a voice in the future of their neighbourhoods.

538 16-18 year olds participated in the survey, which ran from 21 August to 23 September 2020.

Key findings:

  • 91% of respondents stated they had engaged in some form of community engagement or activism in their lives
  • only 8% had taken part in a public consultation
  • 89% said nobody had ever asked their opinion about the future of their neighbourhood by “anyone (like your local council or a property developer)”
  • Of this 89%, the overwhelming majority (82%) stated that they would like to be asked.
  • When all respondents were asked a similar question “Would you like a say in the future of your neighbourhood, e.g. on changes to local housing, streets, parks or places that are special to you?”. 97% gave a positive response (Yes: 306; Sometimes or on somethings: 214) – only 3% (18) said no
  • Of the 59 (11%) of respondents who had been asked about the future of their neighbourhood, experiences were mixed: with 46% said they didn’t feel listened to and 54% said that they did.

A copy of the methodology, full findings and analysis can be found here.


Voice.Opportunity.Power  is a new, free resource for professionals (developers, designers, planners, sports providers and youth workers) delivering  practical guidance on how to involve young people (aged 11-18) in the way that places get built and managed. It is designed to improve participation in – and the quality of – new development and regeneration proposals by one of the most under represented groups in the process – young people.

The toolkit has five sessions intended to work within a typical design programme, starting at the earliest stage and running up to a planning submission.

It has been created by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, ZCD Architects, Sport England and the TCPA to normalise an understanding of how to involve young people in the making and management of places and allow meaningful, not tokenistic participation in the future of their neighbourhoods.

On launch the toolkit has already been supported by over 20 public, private and third sector organisations:

  • 2-3 Degrees
  • Achieving for children
  • Beatfreeks
  • Bede Youth Centre
  • British Land
  • Build Up
  • London Borough of Camden
  • Civic Voice
  • Commonplace
  • London Borough of Ealing
  • Fourth Feathers
  • London Borough of Hackney
  • Hackney Quest
  • Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
  • Leeds City Council
  • London Youth
  • Make:good
  • Matt + Fiona
  • Peabody
  • Pocket Living
  • St Andrews Youth Club
  • UK Youth
  • Westminster City Council
  • Word on the Curb
  • London Borough of Waltham Forest
  • Young K&C
  • Young Westminster Foundation

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