There is a feeling from many people who I speak to that the forces influencing where they live, the businesses that can exist and the houses they can afford to live in, are out of their hands.
But on Somerleyton Road the Council is ensuring that the changes are driven by and for our existing communities, so they get to share in a changing Brixton, and that the community can genuinely feed in to whatever further changes happen in their neighbourhood.
At Somerleyton Road the Council is determined to make sure that it is local people shaping the regeneration of one of the poorest parts of the country. The aspiration is for a truly mixed tenure housing (50% Affordable Housing (including social and intermediate) alongside Market Housing, a children’s centre, nursery, cookery school, flexible community space, outdoor gym, creative workspace and the OvalHouse Theatre.
Residents who live there will automatically become members the housing cooperative which will take control the development. Rents from the Market Housing will help to subsidise the Social Rented housings; the rents for the commercial buildings will help to subsidise the community buildings; from day one the Council has been working in partnership with Brixton Green and Oval House to develop a sustainable system with the community at its heart.
In January we held a workshop for local people to attend and make their feelings clear aroundsustainability and being an environmentally friendly development. We also hosted a housing workshop in February to understand the needs and preferences of local people. In addition, last month we hosted meetings between local parents, nearby schools and the future occupants of the new children’s centre and nursery to design and develop what it will look like and how it will run.
This month we are working with the older residents from Fitch Court who will be moving into a purpose built extra care facility. Those residents will be collaborating directly with the architects to help design the flats they’ll be living in, the landscaping and the grounds. That is a real commitment we are delivering on. We will also be offering the opportunity for local people to get the right skills so they can be part of the teams building the schemes as they come forward, helped by the Green Man Skills Zone and some residents from neighbouring Moorlands and Loughborough estates who graduated from the Lambeth Living and Mears training facility on Wandsworth Road.
Tonight anyone from the local community can come along and meet the architects who will be designing all the buildings in the development as well as the public spaces. Everything which is being developed on Somerleyton came from the community and at every stage we have been clear that the communities’ ownership of the elements is vital to making sure it is a success.
At a time of uncertainty for many, the Council and its community partners are delivering on our commitments to put local people in the driving seat for their futures in this part of the ambitious regeneration of Brixton. We are walking the walk, not just talking it – and I hope that more people will want to get involved, grabbing the opportunities which are out there.