People in West Norwood and Tulse Hill were part of a pilot to demonstrate how communities can take a lead role in creating, shaping and delivering improvements to their environment.
The scheme built on previous successes where local communities lead on projects - and realised their visions for their areas, such as the award winning Van Gogh walk in Stockwell and the Loughborough Junction Master Planning work. Local people are the ones with the local knowledge, who were far better placed to shape the outcomes.
These projects provided opportunities for local people to create stronger links within the community, challenge their own assumptions, push boundaries, and even build skills and knowledge. Empowering communities had the benefit of developing trust, and a feeling of ownership, which meant that local people were considered equal partners.
Using these as building blocks, there was evidence to show how well two different community groups could work together to lead and deliver two different projects. In this case, one in West Norwood and the other in Tulse Hill. And so, the journey began - developing a close working relationship with the two community forums and local ward councillors, with a view to develop and formalise local governance for the West Norwood Public Realm Project and Tulse Hill Gyratory (one-way system) removal project.
Lots of time and commitment was required to build trust and encourage people to embrace the opportunities given to them, and to look beyond their current boundaries. The ability for local community to harness knowledge, reach out within their own groups and beyond, develop good networks and solve local problems were recognised and acknowledged as valuable.
Local project governance was then developed with decision making and money management delegated to local groups. This new approach placed the Lambeth council at arm’s length - with a monitoring role, not one that delivered outcomes to the community. A big difference from the traditional way this local authority delivers improvements.
The Tulse Hill Gyratory, or one-way system, removal project has made significant inroads within Transport for London (TfL). The technical modelling work is being carried out, and importantly they have accepted the aspirations developed by local people. TfL have recognised the importance of community leadership and involvement at the start. This has been a big breakthrough for local people in leading and developing proposals for a TfL managed road network. The precedence set for future projects whether they be Lambeth Council and /or TfL projects.
So far there is overwhelming evidence of how local people have worked together and delivered successfully within budget and on time, with only a few local objections to the project.