Introducing the Community Audit Tool: A key springboard for strategic placemaking

January 2021

To gain a deep understanding of the ‘status quo’ of any residential, retail or mixed-use project, you should always start with a comprehensive audit of the site, its community and the diverse 360° dynamics of the urban environment.

It is only with this evidence and insight that you can begin to craft Big Ideas, memorable experiences and transformative visions that have a lasting impact. At MindFolio, this is our driving ethos towards boosting social, environmental and economic value for both people and places.

A critical part of this audit process, among others, is the application of our Community Audit Tool©. This dynamic and interactive dashboard assesses the socio-economic health of all 633 London wards in a single platform.

How it works

Every ward is assigned an overall score, an average calculated from 22 big data attributes across 3 distinct categories:

  • Health & Wellness: Factors such as access to green space, air quality, and the number medical services within a 15-minute walk
  • Economic: Factors such as levels of crime, unemployment, and income
  • Community Characteristics: Factors such as population density, transport links, and electoral turnout

The Benefits  

The beauty of the Community Audit Tool© is twofold. Firstly, it collates and assesses a range of existing big data metrics and secondly, it augments this with a set of proprietary analytics.

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This not only saves you and others from scouring the web for the latest information on a community or locality, but it also provides you with valuable data and information that is otherwise unavailable.

Together, a range of social, environmental and economic factors are covered, giving an accurate and detailed understanding of the socio-economic performance of any given ward in London.

So, whether you’re looking to revitalise an existing asset or shape a new place, the Community Audit Tool© acts as perfect starting point to inform and guide your strategic thinking by:

Identifying the needs of a community

The Community Audit Tool© allows you to quickly identify community strengths to leverage, as well as the most critical issues to overcome, in order to develop strategic solutions that address the needs of local communities.

Take the ward of St. Pancras and Somers Town, which is available in our free to access version of the Community Audit Tool©.  This is a ward with an average overall score of 45 out of 100. Yet, if we scratch beneath the surface, we can see a concerningly low performance for outdoor environmental factors, which includes a measure of air quality.

So what?

This information is nice to know, but how does it impact the decision-making of landowners, developers, planners, asset managers and other actors?

At MindFolio, we recently completed a project within this ward, where this insight prompted us to dig deeper. We discovered that all schools in Somers Town are within 150m of roads that exceed the EU limit for N02 emissions. Based on this, combatting poor air quality became a vital pillar of our strategic thinking and the ultimate vision we delivered for a new destination in this area.

Find out more about how we create transformative visions.

Comparing and benchmarking wards throughout London

Another crucial benefit of the Community Audit Tool© is the ability to profile a given area and compare the data to other wards:

  • Looking for new development opportunities? Scan the performance of different communities quickly and effectively to identify opportunities that can enhance and extract optimal value
  • Looking to improve existing assets and/or communities? See how your location(s) stacks up against other wards (both near and far)

We’ve found this especially important when working on large mixed-use developments. For example, in comparing St. Pancras and Somers Town to eight surrounding areas across all 22 attributes, we discovered a drastic variation in performance.

Caledonian ward, the lowest performer, was found to be 12% below the London average, with Marylebone High Street ward, the highest performer, 35% above the London average. This shows a huge amount of inequality in an area of only 10km2 around a proposed development site for one of our clients. What’s more, within education, skills, and training deprivation, 5/9 of the wards examined were in the bottom 50% in London.

Again, so what?!

With education inequality evident, we conducted further research to understand current and future skills gaps and establish a lifelong learning strategy. This included a range of educational environments, and the facilitation of partnerships with local, regional and national institutions. This then formed part of a wider vision for a new large mixed-use destination within the area.

Find out more about how we create transformative visions.

Accessing the Community Audit Tool©

We’ve made some of the Community Audit Tool© available for you to try for free on desktop and mobile, covering a selected area of the capital. Try it here or contact us (link to web page footer) for more access.

Data is just the beginning…

The creation of any ideas, and development of new places, start with a blank piece of paper. Our Community Audit Tool©  is one critical foundation to our working process to gather valuable data information and learnings, but it is only the start.

This forms part of a wider and rigorous three-step approach at MindFolio and is where our analytics, insights and visioning capabilities converge to create robust and future proof propositions for residential, retail and mixed-use environments.

We take great pride in applying our approach to shape communities and places the world over. To learn more about how we can use it to help you, please get in touch.

Further reading