Community Planning

Community Planning in Tottenham

There is now a community planning working group which has been meeting regularly since the February 2014 conference. The aim of this working group is to:

  • Promote community planning for sites, facilities and neighbourhoods throughout Tottenham, and a Community Plan for Tottenham as a whole

To get involved with the working group please email the organising group at ourtottenham@gmail.com, or come along to the next meeting. Find out more on the Working Group tab, Community Planning.

Some guidance notes for developing Community Plans:
Examples of community empowerment and planning (version Oct 2015)
Our Tottenham DIY Community Planning Toolkit

Extract on Developing Community Plans from Residents’ Conference April 2013

Some Examples of Community Empowerment and Community Planning around Tottenham

The Our Tottenham network is encouraging local people to develop their own plans for places, facilities, sites, and neighbourhoods around Tottenham. Below are some examples of local community-led regeneration and community plans. Let’s recognise, celebrate, promote and replicate local people’s achievements – it shows the tremendous talents and potential we all have!

Some inspirational local examples we can draw on

Broadwater Farm / Lordship Recreation Ground 
Broadwater Farm  Following a police/youth riot in 1985 the residents of the estate stepped up their efforts to improve the poorly-designed estate which had few facilities. The community-led regeneration of the estate attracted tens of millions of ££s of resources and has been a huge success. Improvements included concierges for all blocks, play areas, landscaping, workshops for rent, health centre, community centre, new school campus, bus route and more….

Lordship Recreation Ground   Tottenham’s largest and previously most-neglected public park, Lordship Rec, is adjacent to the BWF estate and has recently had a £5m makeover mainly due to the long-term commitment and hard work of the park users’ group, the Friends of Lordship Rec. The whole regeneration process was community-led, in partnership with the Council’s Parks Dept. The new facilities and features are now run in partnership with the various park user groups. Indeed, there are many Friends Groups working to improve local parks around Tottenham.

These 2 examples show what can be done where community vision and determination is backed by the resources needed and the political will.

Wards Corner    This area around the former department store on the corner of the High Road and Seven Sisters Rd has been deliberately neglected by the council and landlords for years. In 2003 the council brought in and supported the developer Grainger with public funds. Their plan is to evict the vibrant indoor, mainly latin-american, market and the family-run shops in the area, demolish and rebuild with 100% private flats above a development of high street chain stores replacing the existing market. The group organised 3 massive public meetings and a 500-strong ‘hands around the site’ protest. They also successfully challenged the developers in court (setting a historic precedent) as they had failed to consider equalities issues in the original plan. The developers then resubmitted a new plan which was approved by the council. However the campaign coalition – including residents and traders, backed by local Residents Associations – have developed their own Community Plan. This would retain the historic building, renew the whole area, ensure the wishes of traders and residents and offer a chance to show how distinctive and different Tottenham is. In November 2013 it was formally submitted for planning permission.

Bull Lane Playing Fields    The campaign to save these playing fields in North Tottenham has been going on since 1985, backed by the local sports enthusiasts managing the Tottenham Sports Centre and the Frederick Knight Sports Ground. The council said the fields are surplus to requirements despite the lack of adequate green space and sports facilities in the north of the borough. The campaign group has done a lot over the last 25 years to raise the issue and campaign to save the fields as a local sports venue including getting plenty of media coverage, lobbying, and raising £1 million Lottery money to help buy the land. But the council wouldn’t sell it to the group as the land would be worth a lot of profit to property developers – but is worth more than money to local residents! The group recently heard that the council have at last abandoned threats to build housing on the land. The campaign continues.

Tottenham marshes
Stonebridge Lock   In 2012 British Waterways wanted to close down the Waterside Centre – on which public money had been spent, and which is used by a number of community groups. A coalition of groups including Friends of Tottenham Marshes and Living Under One Sun successfully applied for a temporary lease to co-manage the centre, and to develop a community plan for the site.

Living Under One Sun   They promote community leadership and general health and well-being throughout the community. They have created a vibrant collective community allotment on part of the Tottenham Hale allotment site [see photo]. This involves many members of the community in food growing, and in spreading education about food and healthy eating. They have linked up with other community groups involved with Tottenham marshes in order to protect the marshes and its community facilities from unwanted development and to promote positive, sustainable development.

St Ann’s Hospital    User groups and campaigners have lobbied and campaigned for a number of years, with some success, to protect and improve health facilities and services based in Haringey’s only hospital site. The site has been allowed to get run down through NHS cuts and underfunding, and threats to sell off half to two-thirds of the site for housing development. A new group, Haringey Needs St Ann’s Hospital, is now calling for an Urgent Care Centre to be based there, an additional Child Development Centre, and for the mental health facilities and other public services to be improved.

Community-run community centres
Chestnuts Community Arts Centre:
   The well-used community-run Centre off St Ann’s Road has been in hands of the community for 24 years and the group are determined to continue, despite the lease running out in 2013 and not yet being renewed by the Council. They have expanded their management committee and usage, and are involved in negotiations with the Council.

Lord Morrison Hall:    Community Centre in Scales Road, Central Tottenham since the 1970’s – run by Afro International. The council has not yet renewed the 20 year lease that ended in 2013, and has so far rejected the Centre’s application to renew it. The centre held a meeting to oppose the repossession attended by over 150 people, reflecting the amount of support for such community spaces. The group are taking legal advice regarding various outstanding issues between them and the Council..

Welbourne Centre:     After a long campaign, including a 250-strong march, and a costly legal battle, the well-used community centre run by the local african-caribbean community for 20 years, was repossessed by the council at the end of 2012. There were plans to occupy but the council boarded the place up before anything could happen. Welbourne prepared a business plan to keep it open but this was rejected by the council, who failed to listen to the community group.

North London Community House:  This thriving venue, where we held our founding conference, is not under threat. It’s a social centre set up and run by Turkish and Kurdish activists as a community space for social/political organising. 20 years ago the activists purchased the empty former postal sorting office and converted/refurbished it themselves.  Tottenham Chances   A former British Legion club building on the High Rd faced closure and sell off, but some members held fast and turned it into a thriving independent arts centre. They now have plans to greatly expand the activities & facilities, and interact positively with the local area.

Selby Centre   Set up in 1992 in a former school building, they are a multi-purpose community and social enterprise centre led by the community and third sector organisations – a rich mix primarily from BME, refugee and other historically excluded communities in Tottenham, Haringey, North London and beyond. The site is 150,000 square feet, with offices, meeting rooms, training facilities, sports and events halls and a large car park. They are seeking an extended lease from the Council.

Some thoughts on developing community visions and turning them into Plans

–      Know and love your site / area / neighbourhood / facility – be an ‘expert’ on it, its history and its peoples…

–      Organise a community/campaign group for the site – start meeting regularly open to all.

–      Get to know exactly what the current plans are (if any) for the site/area, decide what the problems are, and whether a Community Plan for the site would strengthen the hand of local people

–      Consider who owns / runs / makes decisions regarding the site or area, and try to engage or at least avoid any unnecessary conflict with them

–      Engage local people, site users, local community groups and networks – spread a feeling of community ownership

–      Think of the possibilities and potential, and Think Big in terms of what you want that addresses the real needs of the local community – real vision backed by practicalities.

–      Maps are great – there are lots of kinds which excite people and explain existing or potential features

–      Draft some positive ideas and options, and spread them around to raise the levels on interest and excitement

–      Organise public consultation/empowerment events, questionnaires, meetings etc.

–      Develop working groups: gather together all the incredible expertise, ability/initiative that exists in every community

–      Start drafting a Community Plan! Don’t worry about perfection – just get it underway and it can be revised many times. It will need a physical vision / maps / drawings, some history of the site and the surrounding community, the reasoning for a Community Plan, details of the community involvement and support, identifying the key potential partnerships and future management structures, costings, timeline for implementation and so on. Put any existing or very detailed documents into the Appendices. The amount and sophistication of the detail may depend on the type of site, its size, how cooperative or otherwise the authorities are etc etc.

–      Make sure at every stage you try to publicise the whole thing to everyone, remain relentlessly positive and be diplomatic with everyone at all times, be totally unfazed by all the obstacles that may get put in your way!

–      Remember we deserve the best for our communities. If its good for the community, it should, must & can happen!