Improving Stratford Station: using social media to gather community insights
By Charlotte Cooper | Mon, Sep 18, 2023
3 min read
Project goal: The long-term redevelopment of Stratford Station and surrounding area
Launch date: 09 September 2021
Visitors total (so far): 18,500+
Unique respondents: 1500+
A partnership of London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), London Borough of Newham (LBN), Network Rail and Transport for London (TFL) have just submitted a Strategic Outline Business case to the government calling for the redevelopment of one of the UK’s busiest and fastest-growing stations: Stratford Station. With the backing of the community and other key stakeholders, their goal is to address capacity and subsequent overcrowding issues, future-proof the station and better connect the surrounding areas for generations.
Thanks to a thorough community engagement strategy, including a multi-staged paid social media campaign, the partners were able to gather the thoughts and opinions of the people who use the station and those who live or work nearby.
Ready to find out more? Let’s dive in and discover the project.
Stratford Station has seen a lot of change and development over the last twenty-five years. But even with the extension of the Jubilee line, the addition of the DLR and the Elizabeth line, the number of passengers using the train station has soared exponentially to a number that the current configuration of the train station was never designed to handle.
In 2019, LLDC, LBN, Network Rail and TFL came together to form a partnership to prepare a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) for the long-term redevelopment of the station and the surrounding area. The aim is to create a better functioning, more resilient station that improves passenger experience and supports continued growth across Stratford and east London more widely.
As part of the SOBC an Urban Design Framework was produced which set out an overarching vision for how the Stratford Station area could be enhanced in the future and meet the needs of all who use it. This included details on how new public realm, homes and commercial space could be unlocked.
Local Community Engagement
It was really important to the partners to engage with the local community and find out about their experience of the station: namely, what works and what doesn’t. They also wanted to be able to get feedback on some of the emerging design ideas, so they put together a detailed engagement and consultation strategy.
Part of this included working with Commonplace. A community website was launched in 2021 and contained all the information about the project for visitors to peruse. The engagement itself was broken down into two stages.
The first stage was a fact-finding exercise to hear from local people, businesses and users of the station. People were able to leave their thoughts about the station and surrounding area via a survey as well as see what other community members had brought up. After a year, a few common themes in the feedback became clear: the lack of toilet facilities, the lack of amenities within the station, a confusing station layout and the lack of high-quality public spaces.
This feedback was used to inform the preparation of the Urban Design Framework and the emerging design ideas for how the station could potentially be improved.
More than just a station
The partners worked to develop the Urban Design Framework taking on board the thoughts, feedback and opinions they had heard during stage one.
Stage two saw the partners present some of the new proposals and designs that had been shaped by the community’s input and gave people the chance to leave their thoughts.
The future of Stratford Station and the surrounding area is exciting!
The partners shared that it could include:
- Between 1,000 – 2,000 new homes
- Up to 10,000 jobs
- New retail and community spaces
- New bridge across the railway tracks
- New green and public spaces
- New walking and cycling street
- High-class bus stations
- High-class train station
- Streets for people
- Climate resilient and inclusive place
This stage of engagement launched in September 2022 asking people what they thought about these ideas.
The partners have now heard from over 1,500 people via Commonplace about what they want to see happen in the future and what they need from Stratford Station and the surrounding area in the future.
Social Media Plan
So, how did over 18,000 people find the engagement website? On top of a full marketing plan, the partners used a paid social media plan to target the widest breadth of local people.
Commonplace created targeted ads that were created for Facebook and Instagram with the plan broken down into several steps:
- A number of ads were launched seeking to engage with anyone in Newham. The engagement was monitored and analysed by Commonplace. We refined our approach and used the ads which were driving the most engagement more often. This was monitored by the cost per contribution, click-through rate and impressions.
- We then produced infographics to show people what others were saying, common themes which were coming out and the information that had already been collected.
- Commonplace analysed the demographics of those engaging. We identified which groups were actively contributing to the consultation and which we weren’t reaching.
- We benchmarked our engagement against the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for Newham.
- Commonplace then targeted ads towards the groups that weren’t well-represented.
This, together with the partners' own engagement events and strategy, brought in new contributions to the project helping to give a reflection of local views of all groups.
The Strategic Outline Business Case was submitted on 31st July 2023 for government review. Over the coming months, the partners will start focusing on the next steps as they work towards a preferred concept for the future redevelopment of the station.
We’re excited to see what happens next on the project!
Want to find out how to add social media to your own engagement? Chat with one of our experts today!