In his exclusive column for Inside Croydon, STEVE REED reports on how community groups are essential to ensure proper and sustainable regeneration in their neighbourhoods
People for Portland Road, a community organisation in South Norwood, organised a public meeting last Saturday to discuss regenerating the area. The well-attended event was held in the beautiful and historic Stanley Halls, now well on its way to being transferred into community ownership.
Many residents raised concerns about the state of local streets. South Norwood, like much of the north and centre of Croydon, is suffering from a fly tipping and litter crisis thanks to the council’s failure to do its job properly and keep the streets clean. Residents voiced fears that businesses will not invest in an area that looks uncared for.
My recent involvement in the regeneration of Brixton, Streatham and West Norwood is that if you want to attract private funding into an area you first need to put in public sector investment and get basic services like street cleaning right, something Croydon’s Tory council has failed to do.
South Norwood has lot going for it. There are fantastic transport links to central London, a diverse and friendly community, housing that’s more affordable than central London and an area with a rich history and strong identity. It’s important that regeneration works for South Norwood people, and those who live there are best placed to make sure that happens.
That’s why I’m keen to see a regeneration partnership put together that is led by residents. It should also include the council, business representatives, and public and private sector landowners, but representatives of local people must be in the driving seat. We could take a look at Brixton Green to see how that might work.
Any regeneration for South Norwood must include plans to improve the range and quality of local shops. In Brixton, Lambeth council and the local community set up a social enterprise that offered empty retail spaces to start-up businesses rent-free for the first few months, while in West Norwood the council and community set up a monthly market to attract more footfall and new retailers to the local shopping centre.
This approach could be adapted for South Norwood to bring in new small businesses and create a unique offer for South Norwood that would complement the big retailers who will monopolise the Westfield-Hammerson development in the town centre.
I’ve raised my concerns before about the plans of Boris Johnson, the Tory Mayor of London, to sell off the now-closed South Norwood police station for housing development. There is already a shortage of school places and GP surgeries in the area. Building more housing before the community infrastructure is in place to support the families who will live there is short-sighted. It would make more sense to use the police station land for something the community needs, such as a new school, before building more homes.
In West Norwood, it was public sector investment in a new school, swimming pool and health centre that attracted private funding for a four-screen cinema. It’s time our council paid a little more attention to district centres like South Norwood, instead of focusing only on central Croydon.
- See previous columns by and about Steve Reed by clicking here
- Steve Reed is MP for Croydon North. His constituents can contact him by:
telephone: 020 8665 1214
or post: 908 London Road,Thornton Heath, CR7 7PE
Or follow him on Twitter: @SteveReedMP
His website is www.stevereedmp.co.uk
Coming to Croydon
- Holocaust Memorial concert, Jan 25
- STDLCC Screening: Winter Nomads, Jan 27
- Renaming ceremony for Lake Conan Doyle, Feb 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Feb 3
- Babylon at the Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 4-6
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Mark Steel at Ashcroft Theatre, Feb 12
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at email@example.com