By Ian Redding
This was the first CAN meeting to be held specifically focused upon Nunhead, and judging by the enthusiasm of the participants there will be more to follow. Clearly Nunhead residents feel that all too often they play second fiddle to neighbours in Peckham, but as this meeting showed there are plenty of things of concern to people in Nunhead that they are keen to get sorted.
The Green played host to the event and they and Nunhead Voice helped to identify the two main agenda items from many that the local community had suggested. There was only ever going to be space for two at this meeting, so there will be plenty to return to for future Nunhead CAN meetings; and YES it looks like more will be organised along with Nunhead Voice and promoting The Green as the local community hub that it needs to become, embracing the values of the old community centre building before it became part of Council redevelopment plans. More on these events in due course.
The meeting was particularly well attended with a range of local Nunhead residents and a smattering of local organisations and businesses. With one of the agenda items being concerning a potential Sunday Market on Nunhead Green, officers from Southwark Council also came along to help inform discussions on that issue.
- Catherine O'Brien - Nunhead resident
- Caz Hallum - Food Assembly
- Charlotte Meen - Nunhead resident
- Claire Webb - Nunhead resident
- Corrine Turner - Peckham Vision
- Dayon Haynes - Nunhead resident
- Doreen Ruddock - Nunhead resident
- Emma Goode - Nunhead resident
- Ester Choutsedjean - Nunhead resident
- Fiona Flynn - Nunhead resident
- Gill Kelly - Peckham & Nunhead Community Council Officer, LB Southwark
- Ian Ritchie - The Green Community Centre
- Jackie Clayton - Nunhead Voice
- James Kitchman - Nunhead resident
- Janet ____ - Nunhead Voice
- Janette Coleman - Fresh South East (and Nunhead resident)
- Jen Thompson - Nunhead resident
- John Hollius - Co-Owner of The Habit
- Lindsey Gil - Nunhead resident
- Lisa Redding - Nunhead resident
- Mandy Matambo - Nunhead resident
- Mole Meale - Nunhead resident
- Polis Pantelidis - The Salvation Army
- Rose Knight - Nunhead resident
- Cllr Sandra Rhule - Elected councillor representing Nunhead Ward on Southwark Council
- Cllr Sunil Chopra - Elected councillor representing Nunhead Ward on Southwark Council
- Stephanie Clive - Potential Market Holder (and Nunhead resident)
- Tina Smith - Nunhead resident
- Wendy Daffin - Nunhead resident and former shop-keeper
- Ian Redding - Community Southwark (and local resident)
- Nathan Lewis- Community Southwark
- David Littleton - Southwark Council
- Nicky Costin - Southwark Council
The nature and content of discussions are briefly outlined below: resulting action points then follow.
The first theme discussed was around Inter-generational issues and Relationships
This was the key issue that had arisen at previous CAN meetings, that attendees proposed needed to be considered in Nunhead specifically: main issues raised included
- Projects focusing on this issue can be helpful in breaking the cycle of loneliness, which was increasingly being seen as more of an issue for younger people with families having to do 2/3 jobs.
- There is a need for intergenerational projects to help support older people in the community and to help young people understand the history of the areas they live in.
- Some residents stressed that community activities can, at times, exclude people with children through not having the time or finances to be able to allow them access.
- Consultation with young people is needed to find out their issues directly from them, as well as some of the solutions; from that to ascertain the level and type of work needed.
- It was suggested this type of work isn’t what’s needed to support young people considered to be ‘troublesome’; but most felt you needed to understand why they behave how they do.
- Whilst much focus has been on the link between young people and Anti-Social behaviour; many local issues are unfairly blamed on young people when much is caused by ‘men in their 30s and 40s driving nice cars, that hang out around Nunhead Green at 1am in the morning’, and a growing concern on perceived antisocial behaviour consequent to use of illegal drugs in Nunhead.
- There were concerns about the speed at which criminal activity appeared to be growing in Nunhead, and the Council representatives present confirmed that such issues needed to be referred to the “Noise Team” (though some residents felt the team had proved ineffective at being able to tackle these problems when they were reported previously).
- It was suggested people needed to connect regularly with police ward panel meetings, and provide feedback on the community problems directly to the police.
Before moving on to the second main item, Eileen Conn provided an update on the New Southwark Plan
- Eileen explained the Council’s stages in preparing the New Southwark Plan, highlighting potential effects on Nunhead and neighbouring areas within the proposals it currently contains.
- She explained that local residents had to establish ways to feed their views into this process and take greater control for the area they live in, and a role in decision-making that affected them.
And then we moved on to the proposed Sunday Morning market on Nunhead Green
- Nicky Costin outlined the policy of Southwark Council to encourage Markets, adding that usually no consultation process is required in order to grant a market license.
- What followed was a very passionate discussion demonstrating that attendees had strong opinions about the market, both positive and negative:
Consultation process – Many were disappointed that it was not council policy to consult with the local community about how such an initiative would affect them, and also that Stephanie hadn’t extensively communicated with local residents about her plans. Though it was accepted that the proper procedure may have been followed, many felt it was to the detriment of local residents so some form of consultation should have been needed. Today’s CAN meeting was providing the only chance to put views across, and that is after a licence has been granted which is too late.
Cleaning - There are concerns that the market will not provide benefit back into the community, and they will end up paying for damage to the environment and for rubbish clear up via increase taxes and charges. However, Stephanie confirmed that she would be financially responsible for any damage to the Green and for rubbish clearance.
Commercialisation of the Green – It was questioned whether the regular presence of the market stalls would be allowed on a public open space that everyone should be able to use. Council officers confirmed that the Green could not become private property as such and that if people were using it, the market would have to fit around them, rather than the other way around. However, residents continued to question what the legal status of the Green was; and whether that status would allow the Green to be used in this way for commercial gain.
Parking – Many stated that they’d already had concerns about the lack of parking spaces given the number of shops in the High Street, and feared that the market would make parking increasingly problematic for local residents. There were very few parking spaces along Evelina Road, so the side streets would become very busy with parked cars on a Sunday. Council officers and Stephanie acknowledged views that this could be an issue and will look further into it.
Effect on local businesses – Several business owners attended and stated that they were concerned at how the introduction of the market would affect the takings for local businesses. Council officers said studies showed that markets brought more business to an area; and Stephanie explained how the introduction of a market at Herne Hill was initially greeted with suspicion, particularly by local businesses, but has now been embraced and brought extra trade to the area. However, Nunhead residents pointed out that Herne Hill had a natural location for a market with good transport links, and that The Green was a very different place.
Stephanie said that local traders have been/are being encouraged to take a stall at the proposed market because local businesses and products were wanted; however, others pointed out that local food growers don’t always have the capacity needed to supply a regular market and were already supplying many retailers and food businesses. Unfortunately, this is only something can be measured once a market is in place.
- In overview, the key issues appeared not to be about the idea of a Sunday market as such, but about the lack of consultation and engagement, and that this was not the right site.
- Indeed, a number of attendees were supportive of the market, and were hopeful that it could further boost Nunhead as an area, bring more money into the area, and provide them with a more local alternative to farmers’ markets based in other surrounding areas.
The original plan had been for there to be a little time at the end of the meeting to ask people’s views on other important Nunhead issues for future meetings. However, it seemed a much better idea to let attendees network after the Sunday Market item (which they were still doing when thrown out of The Green half an hour later) and follow up with attendees on that question by email afterwards.
These are grouped by subject to help make better sense of them:
1/ Future Nunhead CAN meetings, to be jointly organised between Community Southwark and The Green:
- Sunday 24th September – Special meeting involving local young people, to tie in with their Art Exhibition at the Green as part of Nunhead Art Trail weekend.
- Early November (date to be arranged) – Isolation and loneliness: to jointly focus on both younger and older people in Nunhead.
2/ Anti-Social Behaviour
- Residents to ensure they continue to report incidents to the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team, so as to ensure they are fully informed of the extent of the problems being faced.
- Community Southwark to identify and circulate to attendees the links to the Police Ward Panel for Nunhead, so as to enable residents to meet and raise directly with them the issues around anti-social behaviour being faced in Nunhead.
- Similarly, Community Southwark to identify and circulate links to respective police Ward Panels to the members signed-up to each of the CANs across the borough.
3/ Planning and New Southwark Plan
- Nunhead Voice to act as local coordinator on NSP and associated issues affecting Nunhead residents; and to become active members of the borough-wide Southwark Planning Network.
- Eileen Conn to brief Nunhead Voice on development sites identified in the latest version of the NSP, especially the site at Consort Road/Blackpool Road adjacent to Nunhead.
- Nunhead Voice to familiarise themselves with the housing development policies of Southwark Council, and in particular those regarding the Council’s 11,000 new social housing units target (which it is having to fulfil by increasing the density of use of sites of existing Council estates)
4/ Nunhead Green Sunday Morning Market Proposal
- Nicky Costin to issue online survey asap for local people to record the concerns they have, which will be used to review and monitor the progress of the market during its trial period.
- Community Southwark to raise issues about consultation and engagement on this process with the Council, citing the link to the Common Purpose Common Cause strategy the Council adopted in November 2016.
- Council to check the status of Nunhead Green, and the degree to which any associated Open Land/Space regulations might affect the use of the Green for different purposes.
- Nicky and Stephanie to look into issues about the effects on car parking in the area, posed by the Sunday Morning Market proposed.
- Stephanie also provide an electronic copy of her presentation slides so they can be circulated to all attendees.
NB Since the CAN meeting, the Council has announced that the proposal to hold the market on Nunhead Green has been withdrawn; though their remains the possibility of a market being located somewhere else locally.
NBB However, the issue about improved consultation and engagement will continue to be pursued; as will clarification of the status of Nunhead Green (known to be on the Borough Open Space register as OS118) and restrictions on its use.
5/ Broader issues about The Green Community Centre
- Strong local support to help The Green regain its position as the community hub for Nunhead, whilst recognising that it needs to expand/diversify its funding in order to cover the costs of hosting community activities at little/no charge.
- Community Southwark to work with The Green and Nunhead Voice to help support the community hub development and associated fundraising strategies.
6/ New Partnerships with Nunhead Voice/The Green
- The Salvation Army, especially (but not exclusively) around older people’s issues.
- Women’s Institute, especially around issues of addressing isolation and loneliness.
- Plus ….. many indicated that they’d be prepared to volunteer at The Green to support community activities if they can be arranged.
This was a remarkably long list of actions for a first Nunhead meeting and, if it’s a mark of the passion local residents have for their area, bodes well for future CAN conversations.
Some Final Thoughts
The role of CANs is primarily to provide local people with space, time and the opportunity to get together and discuss issues that concern them and to identify actions that could address those issues and bring about improvements in their area. The Sunday Market proposal is not the usual kind of issue that the CANs exist to help resolve, but inevitably it ended up as high on the agenda of local residents and a Nunhead CAN meeting provided the only opportunity for meaningful consultation/engagement to take place.
Let’s hope that future meetings can focus on being proactive in looking at and solving problems, rather than having to react to issues that arise through a lack of early involvement of local people; but if that proves to be necessary again at least residents know that there is now a path to bring them together to discuss their concerns, and to help them voice them to the right people, in the right way, using the most effective channels.
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