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Q&A with sustainability champion, Louise Welham

Louise is an experienced town planner with a demonstrated history of working on strategic regeneration and urban planning projects of all scales, including designated heritage assets. Louise specialised in Environmental Justice during her master’s course, which enlightened her to the levels of environmental disaster being experienced in other developed and less developed countries.


What motivates you to be a Sustainable Champion?

I specialised in Environmental Justice during my master’s course, which opened my eyes to the levels of environmental disaster being experienced in other developed and less developed countries. Gaining that awareness of my environmental privilege, being able to go about my daily life without the fear of my house flooding for example, is what motivated me to try and secure that for others too.

What is your approach to sustainability when embarking on a new project?

Sustainability can mean so many things to so many different people, which makes it even easier for us all to contribute in a way that’s right for us. As planners, I think we’ve got an opportunity to apply an equity lens to some of the more standard planning processes that exist today. For example, that might mean removing barriers to community engagement by providing translators, group transport or childcare at consultation events to make it as easy as possible for the most diverse range of people to have a say in the future of their neighbourhood.

What tools/resources do you think would help you?

Many states in the US have great digital mapping tools which overlay environmentally sensitive areas (such as areas of poor air quality) with demographic data such as income or first language. Not only do these maps bring to light the shocking environmental inequalities for people of low income or ethnic minority backgrounds, but they are also the solution in encouraging built environment professionals to prioritise the needs of environmentally vulnerable communities when masterplanning and developing.

What does living sustainably mean to you personally? Have you made any significant changes in your personal / home life?

One of my main passions is food, so I’ve tried to think about how best I can change my eating habits to make small differences. Making changes that are linked to what you’re passionate about makes it easier to sustain new habits. I try to buy locally sourced and unpackaged food where I can, and I’m also a qualified beekeeper. We grow our own honey at my parents’ home in Essex, and it’s doable in London too, so I’d recommend giving it a go!

What good examples of sustainable innovations or initiatives from projects, on site or in offices have you seen?

I used to live in Battersea, and the Battersea Arts Theatre has a free pick your own herb garden outside. I would often walk past on my way home and grab some lettuce or rosemary to use in my dinner. This kind of small scale, volunteer led initiative is a great way of encouraging people to use seasonal ingredients, getting kids and younger people into volunteering whilst encouraging urban greening and gardening in the community.

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