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Case Study 2: Marks Gate in London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Environmental Justice or Inequality?

Environmental Inequality

Relevant Themes

Perception of area, safety and community facilities.

Profile of the community

Estate community in Barking and Dagenham. Population characterised into 3 of Defra’s population segments: long-term restricted (largest), honestly disengaged & committed greens.

Barriers to resolve & what was done

Barriers: Accessibility and Attitudes. Poor community facilities. The financial incapacity of the environmental organisations (Local Agenda 21 organisation, etc) is a reflection of area wide poverty and their lack of success in community improvement. Top priorities were outlined as increasing the amount of youth provision (youth club had closed), reduce the level of anti-social behaviour (high crime rates) and improve the condition of the subways (fears over safety). Tackling these issues requires intensive support and development from the Local Authority, Police and Transport Agency.

Response: Community ambassadors were recruited by London Sustainability Exchange and trained in the use map-based interviews by LSx and project partners London 21 Sustainability Network as a method of identifying priorities in the area.  More than 100 residents were surveyed. A discussion at the Marks Gate Agenda 21 group informed the choice of categories for the data collection, which included a) perceptions, b) safety and c) community facilities. Over 4 weeks, the ambassadors used A3 maps of the area to ask residents to highlight areas of concern/interest regarding each category, and provide a brief explanation of specific issues or suggestions for improvement.

SMART targets/ indicators of inequality

The area is identified as long-term restricted and isolated by the A13 and A14, poor transport links and perceptions of an unsafe neighbourhood.  Local Area Maps were used to pick up on the areas that residents felt needed improving and also areas that were well used or liked.


This project has highlighted aspects of environmental inequality and given residents an opportunity to articulate how these affect their quality of life to local service providers. The results from the map-based interviews were presented at a Local Agenda 21 and neighbourhood management meeting. An Action Plan was also produced to highlight which issues were being addressed and which remained outstanding. The outstanding actions were subsequently incorporated into the Neighbourhood Management Plan for the area and contributed to local LSP/LAA processes.


The mapping has not only led to an action plan, which has been adopted by the local agenda 21 group, but also has seen many areas of concern addressed by the Neighbourhood Action Management Plan. By supporting and providing training for the community champions it has enabled them to take these issues forward and given them the skills and confidence to lobby local government and encourage action.


Gathering evidence through a visual format such as mapping can effectively engage and enable residents and stakeholders to take action.

It would be useful to repeat the mapping exercise to see if issues have been addressed and if concerns have changed.

Contact: London Sustainability Exchange 0207 234 9400

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London Sustainability Exchange is a registered charity, number 1122130, and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales, company number 5154010.


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