For many years, people using Beech Street have experienced poor air quality. Beech Street, the underpass below the Barbican estate, is one of the worst polluted streets in the City of London, even though it has much less traffic than many streets.
The City of London Corporation wanted to understand the level of support for permanent changes to Beech Street, known as the Beech Street Zero Emissions Scheme. These changes included restrictions for cars to enter Beech Street and changes to signage and enforcement. They commissioned SYSTRA, a leading social research, engagement and consultation agency in the transport sector, to undertake a public consultation survey on this topic.
This followed a consultation on temporary measures on Beech Street during the Covid pandemic, also delivered by SYSTRA.
What was done
On behalf of The City of London Corporation, SYSTRA used PlaceChangers’ proposal map editor to generate a simple yet effective interactive map for this project. This map demonstrated the proposed Beech Street Zero Emissions Scheme traffic restrictions and the proposed signage, side-street and car park access and camera enforcement approach.
Respondents could step through each element of the proposed Beech Street Zero Emissions Scheme to get a clear perspective and understanding of how permanent changes would be implemented without lengthy descriptions.
For consultation promotion, the City of London sent an invitation letter to residents, including a QR code, which led directly to the consultation. They also placed social media notices on major platforms.
The project team could check the real-time consultation reports at any time to understand the activity levels and broad direction of response as it came in and where they are coming from. The entire project team used the feedback report.
At the project conclusion, PlaceChangers undertook a quick check to validate the originality of responses and to validate that no manipulations took place.
The project team and client were pleased with the response they received through PlaceChangers.
There were a total of 787 respondents. The project achieved a phenomenal response rate of 53.43%, demonstrating the intense level of interest by residents in this consultation project.
Some residents provided feedback on the consultation method, including statements like, “I think this website is amazing! I love the step-by-step. So much better (and clearer) than the platform other councils use”. Another person added: “Going on a "tour" is a great way to introduce what you are consulting on. Very easy to use and navigate through the questions.”
Following the consultation, SYSTRA could further analyse the raw data to comply with client requirements. With the available data, SYSTRA could undertake a further analysis to show which groups supported the proposals and which points for critique were raised. This feedback will be used to decide on implementing the proposed Beech Street Zero Emissions Scheme.
Alongside detailed responses, SYSTRA also asked participants general attitudinal and participant characteristics to understand them better, including questions such as how they usually travel to this area and if they generally favour increased focus on cycling, walking, or both.
The project team could tap into interactive reports that grouped responses by project area and street and gave an interactive real-time summary of any responses received.
PlaceChangers also supported:
- Automatic AI-based identification of topic keywords
- Grouping of feedback received by street to quickly identify feedback groups and accelerate the analysis.
The ease of visualising complex proposals on PlaceChangers came to play in this project. We also had a balanced response and genuine interest from residents. We could generate the insights needed and it was helpful that the client could access live reports when required.
Project Manager, Systra