Legacy Community

September 2014
Perhaps the main lesson from the months of engagement with community meetings and consultations was that the tools that were meant for community use were beyond the reach and comprehension of unsettled and relatively poor communities. The Localism Act was created to allow communities to draw up their own plans for recognition by the local government. If the Act was about 'devolving power from the centre to the local', the Olympic legacy revealed how little it was used by community at the neighbourhood level and how extensively by councils, development corporations and the Mayor of London.

 

One plank of the Localism Act was to give the Mayor of London the powers to establish 'Mayoral Development Corporations'. As a result the Mayor became the largest public landowner in London; about 530 hectares of land have been transferred to the Mayor under the provisions of the Localism Act.
Further most councils (including Newham) used the Localism Act to revise their policy on public housing, drastically reducing their housing lists. These are key outcomes of the Legacy. For a different scenario in the future, radical changes to the Localism Act would be needed.

 


Chobham Academy East Village

But to conclude with 2014, four years after the Olympic Games came the re-entry of community into the Olympic park. Between January and October 2014, 6000 new residents moved into East Village at the former Olympic Village that housed the athletes during the Games. A balanced ratio of social and private housing unlikely to be matched at forthcoming villages in the Olympic Park.
With the re-opening of the Olympic Park, on the far side of Westfield Shopping Mall, the contrast with listing adjoining neighbourhoods across the Liberty Bridge became clear and showed the limits of how far the scope of Legacy could extend.
The opening of the new school Chobham Academy in September brought a new dynamic as the old community centre at Chobham on the east side of the bridge became a hub for families across invisible borderlines. A shared space for channeling activities and a link across the bridge.

 

 

 
Chandos Hub Forum March 2014

Community workshops were about linking the old and the new, the listing and struggling, the new and hyped-up. At East Village the new streets are named after sporting metaphors. Metaphors of winners and losers. With community it's different, the metaphors and values of competitive sport do not translate so easily.
To look to the future at the end of a two year process, the vital question remains: what policy tools can community workers use to facilitate community?
Much was learned from the Legacy process.

 

 

 

 

Siraj Izhar September 2012-2014