My City Too has initiated the first extensive peer-led surveys developed by young people that explicitly explore the needs and concerns of London’s teenagers for the built environment. The surveys target hard-to-reach groups and young people who are often left out of the debate when considering how to approach the design and maintenance of our built environment. Responses to our initial survey were collated to inform the Young Londoners’ Manifesto for better design in the capital. What is clear from the results is that young people’s priorities are, surprisingly perhaps, often the same as adults’: safety, cleanliness, brightness and green space.
Responses to our surveys also show how little public spaces currently address the needs of young people. Our 2007 survey of 1000 young people across London showed that 55% felt rarely or never consulted about the types of spaces that they want. This is supported by the Ofsted survey, which stated that 58% of children and young people across the UK answered ‘not much’ or ‘not at all’ when asked if their views were listened to in decisions about the local area. And in the capital, the GLA’s Young Londoners’ Survey (2004) showed that only 7% thought they could have any influence in their local neighbourhoods.
As well as providing supporting evidence for our wider campaign, our surveys have been presented to decision makers in a City Hall debate to demonstrate young people’s feelings of disenfranchisement. Our 2011 survey focuses on levels of youth participation within London’s built environment processes as we tackle the forthcoming Localism Bill.