There will be a Silwood Video Group AGM meeting at the Silverlock Centre on the Silwood Estate at 18.30, Wednesday 15th September. All welcome.
At this month’s Residents Meeting (5th May), the rolling issue of the Pocket Park was raised. The park (sans grass) has been opened, and then closed, on and off for the last 6 to 12 months, and as it is the only source of outside space provided for young people on the Silwood as part of one of London & Quadrant’s Section 106 contracts, there is rising concern by parents.
‘Health and Safety’ issues were cited as the primary reason by L & Q officials at the meeting, however the nature of these health and safety issues were unable to be clarified when enquiries were made. Silwood Video Group members were told simply that there are ‘more repairs that need to be done to the park. This has been passed back to the contractor. As soon as these repairs are done, the park will be opened.’ It is unlikely that L &Q would be unaware of specific problems (if there were any), and seeing as children climbing over the gates in order to access the park (as they habitually do) presents greater health and safety risks, such an answer has not assuaged the residents’ questions, or annoyance.
Let’s hope that Godot, in the form of the golden key to the Pocket Park, decides to turn up soon…
John Lumley, the Development Manager for the Silwood project, has agreed to attend next week’s Residents’ Community Forum and will be available to answer any questions. The meeting will take place at 6:30pm at the Lewington Centre.
Spectacle, having established the Silwood Video Group, have been an active presence on the Silwood Estate since 2001, and in nearly 10 years of voluntary film-workshops and attendance at Residents’ Meetings, we have seen the landscape of this slice of South-East London change, and change as a result of regeneration.
Since 2005 at the Residents’ Forum Meetings, which are now held quarterly, the residents have asked to see the business plans for development and to have access to details of Section 106, which was declared a ‘non-public document’ by the London & Quadrant NIT Manager on the Silwood. The statement was later retracted, but the Section 106 document, to date, has not been made available to residents.
Tower Homes, the commercial wing of London & Quadrant, won the planning permission rights to the land in the Silwood area, on which they intended to build luxury apartments. By law, this makes them accountable to Section 106 Agreement of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), which states that if development is agreed upon, for example, Lewisham Council awarding planning permission to Tower Homes, then the new landowners must provide resources that are of benefit to the community that will be affected by the development. In the case of the Silwood, London & Quadrant was entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the re-provision of community facilities, play areas/ parks, and youth centres on the Estate, which were demolished as a result of the regeneration process. The Lewington Centre was then built as a replacement for the former community centre and the Cyber Centre under Section 106.
Residents are currently being asked to pay relatively steep rates in order to use their new Centre, but the bone of contention lies in the fact that, according to the ‘Regeneration Project Initiation Document’, freely available from Lewisham Council, London & Quadrant allocated a fund of £2 million in order to meet their Section 106 obligations. On top of this, despite the claim of London & Quadrant representatives at Residents’ Meetings on the Silwood that these rates are essential to their business plan and the long-term running of the Lewington Centre, their business plan for 2009 shows that they have made a profit in the region of £120, 000. So why do they seem so unwilling to invest in fully rebuilding the local infrastructure?
As part of the continued regeneration of the Silwood Estate, an application has been submitted by London & Quadrant Housing Association for planning permission on vacant land that residents wanted to be used to provide play areas for their children. After a series of quarterly meetings in which residents were unable to obtain information from L & Q representatives as to status of the Lewisham Council-owned land, it has become apparent that the housing trust themselves have made a bid for it. According to Planning Application DC/09/73169/X , L & Q are seeking permission to build tower blocks ‘ranging from 2 storeys… to 6 storeys’ in the area north of Silwood Street. Residents have requested that this issue be raised at the next Silwood Community Meeting.
There will be a comunity meeting at the Lewington Centre on the Silwood Estate next Wednesday, 5th May, at 6.30pm. On the agenda is: 1) Introductions & Apologies; 2) Minutes of Last Meeting; 3) Lewington Centre – Steering Group; 4) Project Updates on: Housing, Police, Catch 22, Community Development, Funding Opportunities; and 5) Any Other Business.
For more information on the Silwood and our on-going involvement, check out our Silwood blog
The Spectacle team visited the Barnfield Estate in Greenwich to film a tour of the area, during which two local boys gave us a helping hand with the camera! Particularly salient was the disuse of the former community centre building, a large space which is currently boarded up. Renovation of the building would create a safe environment for residents to meet and take part in communal activities.
Following the tour was a residents’ meeting during which different Well London partners presented research, ideas and opportunities to members of the community. Spectacle invited residents to take part in workshops to make a film about the Barnfield Estate and community. If you would like to get involved, visit the Well London Media Project page.