Equitable Spaces

Mapping lockdown’s impact on community planning groups

Covid-19 and its mitigating measures have affected those who are promoting a more equitable planning system in London: an issue which must be addressed.

How has Covid-19 and the associated lockdown measures impacted groups and communities involved in campaigns to promote more just planning in London? As a first step towards the production of a Community-Led Recovery Plan, Just Space and The Bartlett’s Development Planning Unit, produced an audio map collating reflections on this question from a variety of London-based community groups and campaigns.

Read collectively, the stories captured underscore the critical importance of placing the knowledge(s) and experience of London’s diverse communities at the heart of post-pandemic recovery planning in London. In particular, the groups’ propositional reflections about what needs to change for London to become a more just city, offer a clear and timely steer for decision makers seeking (re)election in upcoming local elections.

Bringing together selected audio clips with brief organisational profiles, the map is designed as a living resource, with the potential for the ideas and reflections of further London-based groups to be added overtime.

Calthorpe Community Gardens

Garden behind a wall on a residential road, text on wall reads: relax, play, eat, drink, explore

The Calthorpe Community Garden is a community asset located near Kings Cross station. Established in 1984, the garden serves a diverse inner-London community offering a range of activities aimed to improve the physical and emotional well-being of those who live, work or study in the neighbourhood. As well as being a publicly accessible garden, its core services are:

1. A supported horticultural training programme for people with special educational needs or mental health issues.

2. A sustainable food growing programme that links production to a vegetarian cafe and waste recycling facility.

3. A programme of supervised activities for children and their families.

4. A sports development scheme for young people.

5. A programme of community classes and activities.

With many of their activities disrupted by Covid-19 related restrictions, 2020/21 has seen the Calthorpe Community Garden reorientate several of its activities towards supporting a community-centred response to the pandemic. For example, the Calthorpe Garden Café was transformed into a community food bank distribution point with fresh produce from the gardens supplementing donations from local residents and businesses. In the words of Mila Campoy, Café Manager, Calthorpe “is even more important now than it was before.”

shed and wheelbarrow
plants growing in pots and beds

“Calthorpe is even more important now than it was before.”

Mila Campoy, Café Manager

Grove Park Youth Club & Grove Park Neighbourhood Forum 

In 2011, developers applied to demolish the historic Baring Hall Pub, located in the centre of Lewisham’s Grove Park neighbourhood, and to replace it with a block of luxury residential apartments. Local opposition to this proposal saved the pub and gave birth to a broader process of community-led planning resulting in the formation of Grove Park Neighbourhood Forum and ultimately the Grove Park Neighbourhood Plan. 

As the plan came together, the need to support youth services provision in the neighbourhood emerged as a key area of concern, leading to the formation of a campaign to save Grove Park Youth Club from demolition and to revive the community asset. In the words of Rob Clayton, Chair of the Grove Park Youth Club Building Preservation Trust: “What we're really fighting for here is a democratic space for people without voices.”

Having successfully saved the Youth Club from demolition, Grove Park Youth Club Preservation Trust have since successfully overseen its renovation. The Trust is now working hard to put the final pieces together to reopen but have seen progress delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Brick building outside tower block of flats

“What we’re really fighting for here is a democratic space for people without voices.”

Young people playing on bars

Dharart Ltd & Foundry Asset Management Ltd 

Dharart Ltd and Foundry Asset Management Ltd are two companies working together to provide serviced, flexible workspace for 70 start-ups and small businesses in Print Village, Peckham. These businesses include everything from bakeries and breweries to artist space and music studios. They have recently opened a site with similar aims in Bristol called Meriton Foundry.

The company enables small businesses to grow by facilitating their needs and requirements, but Covid-19 has been a huge drain on their time and resources. It has made communications time-consuming and supporting each business harder due to constantly changing regulations. Many small businesses in their workspace have been unable to access any kind of business support during this period.

For them, visibility and recognition are key issues: “It’s a successful business model, so far. For us it’s been hard work to keep it going and to adapt. So, a key priority is getting more recognition from a government level and from a local council level of the importance of, or the value of, workspaces in the local community - for the generation of employment, and for the generation of new ideas,” says Michael Parmer, Director of Dharart Limited.

A bike outside studio spaces

“A key priority is getting more recognition from a government level and from a local council level of the importance of, or the value of, workspaces in the local community.”

Anti-Tribalism Movement

Faiza Ali represents The Anti-Tribalism Movement (ATM), a non-profit organisation based in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. ATM was founded in 2010 to fight tribe-based discrimination and inequality. Its goal is to uplift the Somali community in the UK, as well as abroad.

ATM’s policy and advocacy programme is an initiative to ensure the rights and voices of those marginalised are listened to. In April 2020, ATM published a report titled ‘Covid-19 Impact on the Somali Community’. The report looked at the alarming impact of the virus on Somalis and the racial disparity in the impact of the pandemic. ATM also introduced positive initiatives to deal with the pandemic conditions. The Covid-19 Resilience Grant launched in partnership with Comic Relief is a fine example of this, and sees ATM providing financial support to many BAME non-profit organisations.

"It’s important to tackle the root causes of injustice and continuing to find solutions that have long-term impacts, rather than just short-term solutions,” says Programme Officer Faiza Ali.

Woman adds signature to others on large image with faces looking out from darkness, with text reading: don't judge, don't label

“It’s important to tackle the root causes of injustice and continuing to find solutions that have long-term impacts, rather than just short-term solutions.”

The project thanks the following community partners: 

81Acts of Exuberant Defiance
Black Training and Enterprise Group
Calthorpe Community Garden
Deptford Neighbourhood Action 
Dharart Limited
Foundry Asset Management Limited
Grove Park Neighbourhood Forum
Grove Park Youth Club Building Preservation Trust
Pedro Achata Trust
People’s World Carnival Band
Race on the Agenda
Roy Tindle
Runnymede Trust
Save Latin Village
Anti-Tribalism Movement
Selby Trust

See the full audio map here


Dr Barbara Lipietz

The Bartlett’s Vice-Dean International and Associate Professor, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Tim Wickson

Lecturer (Teaching), The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Dana Sousa-Limbu

Graduate Teaching Assistant and Events Officer, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Richard Lee

Just Space Coordinator

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