Sunday 4 March 2007 7.35am
Interesting question. But perhaps there are as many views as groups...or even individuals.
Powerful, long established, and effective grups include South Bank Employers Group (think big landowners not employers), Waterloo Community Development Group
, and Coin Street
Community Builders who probably founded the first and, if the presentation at WCDG the other night is to be believed, grew out of the second.
This thread gives some background
but these strong lobbies, with others, have existed for perhaps 30 years, and through various disputes, internal splits and alliances. There are extra problems at the moment because of the ending of the £19 million SRB and a scramble for any other funding that is around. (This I understand is true of many SRBs, espcially those where a significant portion of the money was spent on community workers.)
The references to "community assets" and an audit of same (I think this came up at WCDG) may indicate a live issue. Founders Place is certainly one (it is about a planning aqpplication turned down on conservation area grounds, in case you find it difficult to folow the plot/thread)and there are two versions of the Paris Garden
s ball court a year or two back. Lower Marsh
and the pilot Business Improvement District was slow to get going. And this I am told is nothing new.
That said there have been real sucesses. London Eye
, Hungerford Bridge, and potentially and after years of deadlock, Jubilee Gardens
. (All that is needed is the money.) Also perhaps the wealth of community facilitiees either present or planned around Coin Street
. (Old grouches like me might question why they are at the tip of a peninsular and in the corner of two boroughs, when residents of the big estates closer to Vauxhall, or those squeezed in around Waterloo, have so much less, but at least they have happened, which is not always the case with large projects in other parts of Lambeth.)
I also feel that there are two Waterloo communities. The "official" community, who are involved in groups etc, and then the people who live there and have ordinary lives, some of whom have been burnt by the ferocity of the politics and so leave well alone.
In terms of strategic governence, my impression has been that Lambeth (whether officer or Councillor) has tended to decide that it is all rather difficult, so is to be put on one side whilst they deal with more pressing problems elsewhere. SBEG, I think, do have a vision, or perhaps a collective agenda based on the priorities of their members. Coin Street
Community Builders have been very sucessful in implementing their vision, but I understand that the waiting lists for flats in the various Coin Streeet cooperatives have closed.
I know people are trying, but it will be very hard for the community groups to agree a collective vision in the near future, though individual groups like WCDG may have one.
Instead, and unlike other parts of Lambeth, it appears that the GLA and London Development Agency are leading on the Waterloo development Framework. Not necessarily a bad thing as there are huge developmental pressures, and it is in everyone's interest, other than perhaps the short terms interests of house and office builders, that development is balanced by investment in community facities. But I don't know enough of the detail to have a personal view.
I would be interested to know what you thought of the WCDG meeting. And what you think once you have done more research.