CLEVER Cities Programme closure announcement – 30 November 2023

CLEVER Cities concludes its pioneering five-year journey in South Thamesmead, London, redefining urban living through community-led design and nature-based solutions. Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme and supported by key partners, including Groundwork London, Peabody, the Greater London Authority and the Young Foundation, our initiative has transformed green spaces, enhanced biodiversity and improved community resilience.

Thamesmead, one of London’s biggest regeneration areas, became a testament to the positive impact of co-designed nature-based solutions. The Making Space for Nature Community Fund empowered locals, fostering community pride and well-being.

As we wrap up our London-based programme, CLEVER Cities has helped consolidate the leading role of communities in co-creation and governance. Our CLEVER Cities Guidance site offers many resources for future community engagement. The programme leaves a lasting legacy of positive transformation, with Groundwork London and our partners committed to advancing community-led initiatives in the city. We extend our sincere gratitude to residents, partners, and stakeholders for their instrumental role in the programme’s success. Though this chapter ends, the spirit of positive change lives on.

Thamesmead, London, CLEVER Cities programme

What is Making Space for Nature?

CLEVER Cities brought the Making Space for Nature programme to Thamesmead, supported in its delivery by Groundwork London, Peabody and the Greater London Authority. Thamesmead has nature at its heart with a huge 370 acres of green space as well as parks, canals, and waterways. The area was chosen to be London’s CLEVER Cities representative because it is undergoing significant regeneration, providing an opportunity to test the benefits of community co-created nature-based solutions.

Making Space for Nature provides opportunities for local people to turn the grey to green. It has a positive impact on the community through improving health and well-being, reducing physical and mental stress, and generating a sense of community pride. Residents will co-create high-quality green space to help form stronger communities while improving biodiversity and protecting against impacts of climate change.

Making Space for Nature aims to celebrate and improve the abundance of natural resources that the area has to offer. In 2021 and 2022, the Making Space for Nature Community Fund provided grants for residents, community groups, charities, and schools to transform Thamesmead’s green spaces and help people engage with nature.

Find out more about Making Space for Nature and what the current grant recipients have been up to with their projects:

What is CLEVER Cities?

The project is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme under the name CLEVER Cities, which is a five-year initiative led by Hamburg, London, and Milan and has associate cities of Larissa (Greece), Malmo (Sweden), Covasna (Romania), Madrid (Spain), and Belgrade (Serbia). It promotes the co-design and co-implementation of nature-based solutions in partnership with citizens and professional stakeholders.

The goal of CLEVER Cities is to promote sustainable and inclusive urban regeneration and demonstrate through action research that greener cities work better for people.

London’s action research will be happening in Thamesmead in three CLEVER Action Labs (CALs). All are located in South Thamesmead and will complement the significant amount of regeneration work that is planned and already underway. The action research will be part of the newly created public-facing programme called Making Space for Nature.

Visit the CLEVER Cities website for more information.

What’s next for CLEVER Cities?

After 5-year long projects in Hamburg, London, and Milan, CLEVER Cities has become a leader in co-creation and co-governance and they are ready to share key learnings and best practices gained from their experience. Working intensely with communities in the co-creation of nature-based solutions in Thamesmead has led to many important technical developments, such as new co-governance network models, co-creation support tools, and Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) like a community-led edible garden and biodiversity focused designs.

The CLEVER team at Groundwork is actively looking to work with partners, within the Groundwork Federation and externally, to help advance the tools, techniques and processes of co-creation and local co-governance. For more information please contact Sean Bradley, Clever Cities Programme Manager: – 07889755181