Our new Loughborough Junction blogger, Daniel Mazliah, sees real potential for positive change if local people make the new masterplan their own
The future of Loughborough Junction is up for grabs. Tesco is moving in. Sainsbury’s could follow. The Government wants to cut the rail links. But just in time, Lambeth Council has decided to let residents have a say.
LJ – a patchwork of Victorian terraces, 70s estates, scruffy shops, parks and industrial plots straddling Coldharbour Lane – can feel like the no man’s land between Camberwell and Brixton. Yet there’s a quiet vibrancy here; parents, artists, writers, entrepreneurs and activists are making things happen.
Take what my two-year-old son calls the ‘wall fish’, surprising, colourful mosaics of fossils brightening the sides of a dank railway bridge 30 seconds from my place on Cambria Road.
Part of a local project to use art to bring to life the area’s bridges, they were created by local children and artist Tamara Froud. It’s a play on the name of the road and the Cambrian Explosion (the moment 500 million years ago when simple organisms suddenly spawned a host of more complex creatures).
LJ is changing in other ways too. Tesco is taking over a disused pub; its hoarding excitedly proclaiming its range of vegetables (I’m sure Mohammed in the grocers up the road can’t wait). Rumour has it that Sainsbury’s has its eyes on another pub. Meanwhile the Department for Transport is consulting on cutting the rail links from Loughborough junction to the city and north London.
It’s exactly the right time for Lambeth Council to give people the chance to have a say.
On Saturday a group of council planners, architects and volunteers gathered by the ‘wall fish’ to launch the area’s very own Masterplan.
A Masterplan is about public spaces – roads, pavement, green spaces, lighting and so on. Funding is in place so improvements will be made.
Residents were asked for their aspirations for LJ. It’s fair to say that ‘greening’ wasn’t top of people’s priorities.
Under the bridge some common themes emerged: not least improving the high street and tackling anti-social behaviour. I sympathised with the resident who asked whether the council could spend the money on finally repairing her council house instead.
But it would be a mistake to see the Masterplan as just about new pavement.
According to Anthea Massey, Co-Chair of Loughborough Junction Action Group – which is working with the council on the Masterplan – this is about giving Loughborough Junction status as a place in its own right.
I spoke to Cllr Carol Boucher who argues that the plan has the potential to have a much wider influence as a clear message of what the people want.
In other words local people need to make the plan their own. If we make it as true a statement of what we want as possible, we give it power beyond its relatively narrow remit. If we do this, it will be hard for Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Department for Transport, the council and anyone else with designs on LJ to ignore.
You can find out about more Masterplan events on the LJAG website here.