Better places through participation – Steve McAdam

Wednesday 19th July – 19.30 Judge Lecture Hall, Tiffins Boys School.


It was more than 6 years ago , in November 2016, that the community was invited to co-design the tower facade for the Old Post Office development. A much resisted and reviled development it created the ‘playbook’ for developers in the town centre and the precedent for tall buildings, despite the (ultimately toothless) SPD regarding heights in the so-called Eden Quarter. I was, along with other members of the Kingston Society, part of that project.

The building is more or less finished and in my view it has not delivered the vision we created for it. In particular the decorative balconies look garish, and the top of the building looks unfinished it doesn’t speak to context, and the exciting options suggested by the architects never left the drawing board.

This may be because the architects Simon Bowden were not permitted to take the design to build. Or maybe it is the inevitable gap between a CGI visual and the real thing. Perhaps it points to an inevitable failure of community involvement, and only a notional commitment by the developer. Whatever your views: was it worthwhile?

At a special meeting of the Kingston Society we will review the project and its outcome. Our project facilitator from that time, Steve McAdam is also talking about this project and his work at Soundings, a community engagement consultancy, focusing on co-design, public and stakeholder engagement and consultation as a direct resource for master-planning teams engaged in complex design schemes.We are delighted to have Steve McAdam of Soundings, a community engagement consultancy, coming to talk to us about his work. Steve is a founding director of Soundings, an agency focusing on co-design, public and stakeholder engagement and consultation as a direct resource for master-planning teams engaged in complex design schemes.

Steve is an architect and urbanist with over 30 years’ experience of working on demanding development projects across residential, commercial and cultural sectors in urban and rural settings. He is acknowledged as one of the UK’s trailblazers for public participation in planning and design processes and many of the innovative approaches he has piloted have now become accepted norms for good practice.

He has been involved in numerous projects that have won multiple planning, design and innovation awards including Kings Cross, the London Olympic and post-Olympic master-plans and Chelsea Barracks.

Tony Lancaster

7 July 23

Live streaming of this event available here.

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Last Updated on July 25, 2023 by Kingston Society