Regeneration and new infrastructure projects in London should be seen as opportunities to “stitch communities back together” rather than compounding existing barriers between them, according to research involving hundreds of urban development experts from the capital’s public, private and third sectors.
Overcoming London’s Barriers, a 35-page report produced by practitioners’ network Future of London, looks at both physical and administrative impediments to London neighbourhoods being being improved effectively, be they hostile roads, poor walkways and impermeable buildings, or the differing objectives of next door local authorities and other governance bodies.
Croydon is characterised as a “classic example” of how post-war development priorities have ended up limiting people’s ability to move around the area and deterred investment. Recent attempts to overcome problems created by its fast roads, subways and impassable office blocks include a new pedestrian footbridge at East Croydon station, still under construction, to improve pedestrian “connectivity”.
Another case study looks at ongoing moves to link up Lewisham town centre, including the replacement of a roundabout and plans to create easier access to it for communities to its west confronted by a wide street, a shopping centre facade, a railway viaduct and the River Ravensbourne. The crowdfunded Peckham Coal Line project, which aims to create a walking and cycling link between Rye Lane and Queens Road and has been incorporated into Southwark’s local plan, is also highlighted.
The Finsbury Park area, which falls into three different boroughs – Islington, Haringey and Hackney – and, because of Finsbury Park station, is also of importance to Transport for London Network Nail, is picked out as an example of the challenges and successes of multi agency forums seeking common ground and co-operation. Traders from the area’s different commercial districts are involved in a multi-borough Town Centre Management Group which “aims to co-ordinate activity and prevent duplication of initiatives,” says the report. “Area-wide working” in the very different context of the Wandle Valley is also covered.
The report’s recommendations include seeking a fuller understand of the sometimes intangible influence of barriers, building partnerships between overlapping and potentially rivalrous governance bodies and interest groups, supporting good local initiatives and communicating the benefits of “success stories” well.
Read the full Overcoming London’s Barriers report via the Future of London website.