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Regeneration: Top Down v Bottom Up INTV Jessica Leech - 2008


Interview with Jessica Leech from the Pepys Estate on bottom up regeneration.


Top down and bottom up.


Interviews with two community activists, Doreen Dower and Jessica Leech, who live on neighbouring housing estates, the Silwood and the Pepys estates respectively, separated by a rail track but pushed into one SRB (Single Regeneration Budget) regeneration scheme. The Silwood SRB was an entirely council led bid whereas the Pepys residents, to the authorities surprise, put in their own bid.

The Government Office for London insisted they come together as one scheme. Lewisham Council used the social development "outputs" of the Pepys Estate to cover their total lack on the Silwood.

The rationalisation was that the council saw the Pepys social development projects as a pilot for the Silwood.

Jessica Leech

Resident and community activist. Chair of Pepys Community Forum, a Single Regeneration Budget funded community led organisation.

On the history of the Pepys successful community led SRB bid for £3.5 million funds for social development and how they maintained their independence despite being forced to come under the Lewisham council run "Silwood SRB" bid.

The importance of controlling the budget in order to set own priorities and agenda of needs, not simply government "flavour of the month". How they were able to respond to residents initiatives.

For successful bottom up development you need your own space where the community can come together informally, staffing who are not "output" orientated, but able to spend time meeting and listening to residents. A nursery or creche are essential as are community events.

Jessica stresses that it is also important for all those organisations with funding or resources to be open to allowing residents to genuinely affect the decision making.

Difficulties include being "on the ground" and disbursing rationed funds so hostilities and factions have more effect. But positive side is big emphasis on being open, having clear procedures.

Community activists tend to be older and without families.

On keeping money in the community by local employment.

List of projects they funded includes a credit union, recycling and community garden projects which are different from the more prestigious projects favoured by  top down decision makers.

Click the link to find out more about the Silwood Estate and the work of the Silwood Video Group

You can download the transcript of this edited version of Jessica's interview or the full version.




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Date: 2008
Location: Pepys Estate
City: London, England
Original Format - colour, mini DV, 34 mins
Language versions - english

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