May 29 2015
Neighbourhood Info Hub
As part of the Brockley Max festival we launched an interactive display of information about our neighbourhood. The aim of our 'neighbourhood knowledge hub' - appropriately on display at Crofton Park Library - was to disseminate information as widely as possible and spark a discussion about the past, present and future of Crofton Park ward and its micro-neighbourhoods. We set this exhibition up together with the 'Revealing Spaces' project who put in the time to map and display various sources of information in the short time available.
These types of exhibitions (commonly referred to as 'urban rooms') were encouraged by the Farrell Review of 2013. A number of local areas have since set these up as more permanent exhibition spaces (for example, see the Blackburn Urban Room) where local residents can come together to discuss and contribute to the development of their neighbourhoods.
Many residents who visted and completed our questionnaire agreed that the information helped to raise awareness about what the neighbourhood is all about. Whilst we all love and have a strong sense of belonging to where we live, not all of us feel empowered to participate and help influence decisions that affect our local area as we tend to be too distant from the knowledge about what is being planned. We hope this encouraged more to get involved. If you didn't manage to complete our questionnaire we'd welcome any further views about the display and whether a more permanent 'urban room' would be useful?
In addition to our physical display, we set up our virtual room on our Stickyworld Portal, where we have been capturing residents comments and photos to represent how people feel about specific areas in their neighbourhood, both good and bad. Feel free to continue to contribute your ideas about specific locations in the neighbourhood area!
May 30 2015
Making our Neighbourhood Plan Healthy
Our workshop on 30 May 2015 explored local perspectives into how the neighbourhood environment contributes to our personal and collective health and wellbeing. We felt it important to focus on how the design of our buildings and the wider public realm impact our idea of a 'sense of place' and hence our attachment, belonging and feelings towards our neighbourhood. We wanted to explore aspects of the neighbourhood that we do not normally think about such as how it sounds, its happiness and preferences towards one type of space over another. These factors, unwittingly, contribute to the ‘quality’ of a place and subsequently this ‘quality’ impacts how we feel and how these feelings empower or disempower us to engage with our Neighbourhood.
We began by exploring the ambient sound recordings from our sound walk back in April 2015. Most of us were surprised to realise how much we block out unpleasant ambient sounds. We all enjoy sitting outside having a coffee but rarely realise just how much loud traffic noise we are subjected to in so doing. There is a lot of research attributing constant noise exposure to health issues yet this isn’t something we consider paying attention to. Some of our recordings and the reactions from those who joined the walk are now online on our Brockley Sound Walk Map. See Soundscape of Brockley article for more info and what this means for our neighbourhood plan.
Those of you living around Stondon Park mentioned particularly how traffic noise is a constant nuisance issue. There is an opportunity with the improvement works being planned here and along the whole of the Brockley Corridor to implement a range of noise reduction measures including the use of low noise road surface. DEFRAs 2013 Draft Noise Action Plan encourages local highways authorities to implement noise reduction measures for new roads or on road surfaces that need replacing. We need to ensure that the proposals on the Brockley Corridor take these policy considerations into account.
Happiness and Neighbourhood Belonging
We further explored questions like ‘what places in the neighbourhood make you feel happiest?’; ‘what makes certain locations feel good?’; ‘which spots do you like exploring alone versus those where you like meeting friends?’. New cafes have created great meeting places in the area creating the ‘buzz’ that everyone said they welcomed. In contrast, the peaceful views of Blythe Hill Fields was also something that people felt was good about the area, whilst others felt it was inaccessible (especially if you found it hard to walk up hills) and ‘not much to do there’. It was also interesting to see how many identified key landmarks in the area as being ‘happy’ places: St Hildas Church, Crofton Park Library and the Rivoli Ballroom. One commented how the Rivoli “always makes me smile”. This indicates the importance of buildings - both their design and what they stand for – in creating a ‘feel good’ ambiance resulting in our appreciation and sense of pride in the built heritage of our neighbourhood. In terms of our Neighbourhood Plan these insights highlight how important it is to leave behind an environment that future generations would equally appreciate and value, rather than want to tear them down and start again.
When asked ‘what place would you redesign, and what would you put there’, there was an overwhelming number of local residents saying how they felt they would improve the area through greening, landscaping and planting more trees. The area has a lot of good green spaces, but what is lacking is good connectivity between them. The topography also makes most of them inaccessible to some members of the community. There was a strong feeling that these could be better connected through ‘green chain’ links, establishing our very own ‘three peaks challenge’ nature walk linking Hilly Fields, Blythe Hill Fields, One Tree Hill and the valley of Ladywell Fields.
Whilst the physical environment was much talked about in relation to neighbourhood belonging, others also mentioned the importance of the people and social connections that are quite strong in the area. A busy road dominated by traffic, like Crofton Park Road is closed once a year and taken over by its residence for their annual street party. The creation of a temporary social space, whilst transient, equally creates a sense of place and belonging. It is the combination of the physical and social spaces that make our neighbourhood a great ‘feel good’ place. All the comments and ideas gathered at our workshops can be downloaded here.
May 31 2015
Consultation With St Hilda's Congregation
The Neighbourhood forum joined St Hilda's Congregation on May 31 2015 to find out their thoughts on the neighbourhood plan.
June 3 2015
Consultation With EPSP At Ackroyd Centre
The Neighbourhood forum joined the Elder People's Support Project (EPSP) on June 3rd 2015 to find out their thoughts on the neighbourhood.
July 4 2015
Consultation on Emerging Strategy
The Blythe Hill Festival provided another opportunity for us to consult on the plan and share with you the emerging outputs. We were gathering your views on the site assessment work which was done to identify any areas of opportunity for housing development or for green space protection. We also shared the emerging nighbourhood plan strategy. Those of you who wish to provide further feedback and would like to see a copy, please get in touch.