I appreciate that there are a number of threads re individual elephant schemes on the forum and have looked for an overall regen thred without success. I hope no-one will mind me starting this one anyway: I'm writing it because there appears to be so much frustration around the lack of hard facts about e.g. the roundabout underpasses. I know residents like Jackie make huge efforts to keep people updated but actually, that's not enough.
It's such a shame that the whole elephant regen, whilst potentially exciting and positive, is being let down by such poor communication from the main teams. We get the glossy 'Quarter' which is fine, but contains very few hard facts. It just tells us in clever fonts how 'vibrant' we all are. The website is distinctly non-interactive. Of course we now have the obligatory vertical banners in equally funky fonts saying that 'it's started'. There's the occasional lame exhibition in the shopping centre, but no 'hub' where people can go and chat to Southwark or even LendLease employees. The Ecopod is the most shocking example of how to mystify and alienate people - I assumed one could go into it but then realised that it was a dumb box.
It proudly announced the regen of Potzdamer Platz - a large site in the centre of town. It sat smack in the middle of the regen site itself. Locals and tourists alike went there to learn about the proposals, comment, find out when meetings were going to take place etc. It was somehow 'open/visible' and stopped the regen from feeling like it was all going on behind closed doors, like the elephant does. I'm no conspiracy theorist - I don't think the elephant regen organisers are trying to hide things or be obstructive. I just don't think they are being creative about engaging people in the area in a truly public way which says: 'we are regenerating this area - come and see us'. [I am involved in regeneration myself and I know how hard it is to get people engaged - most people are just trying to get on with their lives, frankly.] But wouldn't it be great to have our own 'red box'?
Come on Southwark/LendLease. Stop fiddling around with small outreach efforts and announce yourselves loudly, publicly and with some oomph.
As soon as the bloke comes and shows me EXACTLY how to operate the site my Ourelephant.org site will have a lot of info. But I have been this week in meetings with all the Grands Fromages with exactly this in view, so please do watch this space. Things are afoot. But there has been a huge upheaval in the Regeneration offices, wont go into it here but nasty politics involved, and regrouping is an..er..tricky business. You'll be the first to know, I assure you.
I absolutely agree that the community engagement to date has been really lacking in providing for constructive input from affected/interested people and groups. On the big issues we find out what is really hapenning here first (or in the Southwark News) and on planning issues the aim seems to be to go from an "information-giving" exhibition to planning application in one leap.
On Wednesday at 7pm during the Walworth Community Council Meeting John Abbott (regen team) has been invited to speak about the Stead Street early housing site. On the basis of previous WCC meetings there appear to be a number of people (including me) who want to have an input into aspects of this development, and this is just one of many such sites, albeit very significant (c300 units).
This presentatikon has taken several months (and assistance of the Commmunity Council and Councillors) to arrange - it would be great if others could join me there in asking him for a more innovative and participatory community involvement strategy, whatever your views on the Stead St Development itself. The venue and agenda is here: http://www.southwark.gov.uk/Uploads/FILE_30924.pdf
Its always been a popular passtime to 'bash your local council' as I found out whilst I worked in Regen but the old saying that "you never know what you've lost till its gone" will gain a special significance at the E&C now that Chris Horn in no longer there.
Although I didn't know him very well, he struck me as being very similar in approach to Fred Manson who was the prime mover in enabling the regeneration of the north of the borough. Fred had a vision which he had the skill, determination and flair to steer through the minefield that is 'local politics'. The borough owes Fred a huge debt of gratitude and I had hoped that Chris would be able to do much the same thing at the Elephant&Castle, Southwark's largest regen project and probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the UK and certainly the most complicated.
The fallout of Chris' resignation will probably be widespread and if there is any lack of communication from the E&C team then it probably indicates that the dust hasn't yet settled.
Lets hope and pray that us E&Cers are lucky enough to get someone else like Chris to steer the E&C ship. Pray that we don't get some supine aparatchik who wants to brown nose with the politicos. If that happens then we can wave goodbye to any sort of vision and say hello to a decade of consultation.
You are, Niall, SPOT ON, and all I can say is that yes, indeed the dust is settling, yes indeed your fears of aparatchniks is only too well founded, and yes those who must be are ON THE CASE. The fallout may be very grubby. But this is a shabby and disgraceful tale which I have avoided bringing to the Forum until....well...until. But watch this space. There are a lot of waves to come..
Further to my last posting...those that are in the forefront of the E&C Regen. are more than aware that the drought in the information flow is unacceptable and guaranteed to alienate the public, and encourage rumour. The upheaval in Southwark Council is more than a little at the bottom of this, and do not think that anyone (other than those upheaving Southwark Council possibly) are happy about this. Owing to the disbandment of the previous constellation the PR machine is being reformed in a completely different format and if you have to take it from me, I'm sorry but I'm all there is at the moment. But others, (and betters) are on their way! Sorry to be obtuse - I'm not trying to be mysterious, only cautious and careful not to speak out of turn. Others will make announcements. But DO NOT THINK for two minutes that irons, and big ones, are not in the fire, they are.