This was the second meeting of the Walworth Community Action Network and the first to include a ‘headline’ discussion topic. We had a good mix of people from the local area and an interesting presentation about the Walworth Neighbourhood plan.
We found out what it might mean for the future of the Walworth area and how communities and residents alike can get involved.
We have tried to capture links to the projects and resources discussed in the notes below, but if you would like any further information please don't hesitate to contact us, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Inspire for use of their crypt off the Walworth Road!
- Jeremy Leach - Walworth Society
- Richard Lee - Elephant and Walworth Neighbourhood Forum
- Teresa Cleary - Inspire
- Marcela Vielman - Pembroke House
- Dot McEvoy - Alberta TRA
- Carol Wheatley - Newington TRA
- Matthew Allgood - United St. Saviours
- Karis Morris-Brown - Beanstalk
- Alice Durrans - City University
The ‘Headline’ discussion of this meeting revolved around attempts by the Elephant and Walworth Neighbourhood Forum to establish a Neighbourhood Plan for the Walworth area.
Firstly, what is a Neighbourhood Plan?
A handy summary:
“Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area.
They are able to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have their say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided, and grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead.
Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of development for their community where the ambition of the neighbourhood is aligned with the strategic needs and priorities of the wider local area.”
We invited Jeremy Leach, chair of the Walworth Society, to run through the history of the forum and explain what motivated them to try and influence what the Walworth are would look like in years to come. They started in 2012 as a loose collective of campaigners brought together as a result of the development of the Heygate estate and their opposition to Lend Lease’s application. After that battle was effectively lost they decided to turn their attention to something more positive.
In a nutshell the Elephant & Walworth Neighbourhood Forum is made up of community groups, T&RAs, small businesses and individuals across the Walworth, Old Kent Road and Rockingham & Trinity areas.
Negotiations with Southwark council have spanned several years now and Jeremy admitted that it had been a gruelling process. However, the Forum was recently given formal designation and they are now able to focus solely on the Neighbourhood plan…
So what will this look like? Well, you can find out by clicking here!
The Forum focuses on 5 areas:
Making life easier for pedestrians and cyclists in the area – the forum has already achieved some success in establishing the East Walworth Green Route from Salisbury Row Park to Burgess Park. A major focus of this area is connecting the numerous green spaces of Walworth.
Assets were mapped as part of the Elephant and Castle Supplementary Planning Document in 2012 but this omitted many historic buildings, including pubs and other assets of community value. Walworth road has now been designated as a Conservation Area.
The Local Economy
The Forum has identified existing local economic hubs including Latin Elephant, East Street Market, Harper Road, Rodney Road, Maddock Way, and Bagshot Street. A key part of the Neighbourhood Plan will be to support existing local and independent businesses.
Taking Care of Our Green Spaces & Food Growing
There is a wealth of community food growing that is happening in the Walworth Area. Leading the charge is the team at the Walworth Garden Farm but Jeremy gave other examples including the Rockingham Community Allotment, the Aylesbury Road Allotments, and the Pullens and Newington TRAs. As a result of the meeting there have been early discussions as to how we can link up some of these projects and provide infrastructure support.
Protecting and Enhancing Community Facilities
Several community assets have been identified that need protection including the Rockingham Community Centre and the Jack Hobbs Club on the Brandon estate. It is vital that these community hubs are protected in future and the Neighbourhood Forum will do its upmost, along with local residents, to ensure this.
Jeremy, along with Richard Lee (who is a local resident and member of the Forum) were keen to state that the spirit of the forum is very inclusive – it’s about bottom-up community organising and they wish to steer clear of more formal structures. As a result we also discussed how to maintain this ethos whilst utilising the support provided by the 'organised' sector. Infrastructure is needed, as well as support to grow and develop the forum, but 'power' must not be held by a select few. We will be working with Jeremy, the Walworth Society, and the Neighbourhood Forum to develop a community-led approach to help make the plan become a reality and shape a platfrom that as many people as possible can become involved with.
HOW CAN PEOPLE GET INVOLVED TO MAKE CHANGE?
The Forum has regular monthly meetings and are currently working out how to proceed now that they have been officially recognised by Southwark council. If you sign up, you will also be placed on a mailing list and will receive regular updates and announcements. Signing up is the first step to getting involved in shaping the future of the Walworth area!
You can find out more about Neighbourhood Planning by clicking here.
Other issues discussed
At almost every CAN meeting across the borough there has been some discussion around the difficulty in engaging with people and this meeting was no different. TRAs are finding it hard to motivate residents to become more active, especially when it comes to turning up to meetings. A few reasons were offered to explain this:
- Short term tenants/transient population
- Owners of properties who don’t live on estates
- A lack of communication and co-ordination
- Organisations/community groups not linking up
What can we do about this?
Well, as the Community Action Networks continue to develop they will hopefully take on more of a role in increasing levels of communication across the borough. It was suggested that Southwark Group of Tenant Organisations (SGTO) could provide support for communication networks between TRAs as it was suggested by attendees that it is very difficult to find out what is going on.
Any community group, no matter how big or small, can advertise their events on our dedicated page. The Borough, Bankside and Walworth Community Council newsletter was also highlighted as a good way to spread the word. Get in contact with Pauline Bonner, Community Council Development Officer, to join the mailing list: pauline.bonner@southwark
If anyone would like more support in getting connected or developing ideas and initiatives please contact a member of our team: email@example.com