Developing successful neighbourhoods
High levels of crime, overcrowding and a poor quality public realm collectively act as barriers to new investment in the Growth Boroughs. Tackling these issues concurrently with employment and health under the other two Convergence themes will help unlock the potential of the area.
The aim of the Developing Successful Neighbourhoods theme is to increase investment and address environmental inequality and the high crime rates that can blight communities and lives.
Progress towards Convergence in terms of crime, housing and the public realm is variable. Significant activity has resulted in over sixteen thousand new homes being built of which over ten thousand are affordable homes but social housing waiting lists have grown. The number of violent crimes recorded decreased between 2007/8 and 2008/09 but increased slightly in 2009/10. Public realm improvements have taken place around the Olympic Park fringes but as the park itself is still in development, the improvements in connection between the communities around the park is yet to take place.
The programme of public realm improvements around the fringes of the park that began in earnest in 2011 now needs building on to ensure that fringe communities blend with the new communities of the park in 2014 and beyond.
Overcrowding is still a problem in the growth boroughs area and we will look again at options for joint work that could alleviate this while increasing the range of homes on offer. High levels of deprivation and need in the Growth Boroughs, reducing public resources, a growing population and large family sizes result in welfare reform measures including benefit caps having a greater impact on residents. All six boroughs have developed strategies to review and where possible, ameliorate any adverse impacts arising from this.
Examples include economic analysis of services and their effectiveness for the most chaotic individuals, furthest from the Convergence goal. Detailed reports in both Hackney and Greenwich have been completed and staff trained in an understanding of the Resolving Chaos model. Resulting from this a new wrap around service had been initiated in Greenwich and proposals are awaiting funding decisions in Hackney.
The London Legacy Development Corporation aims to create successful neighbourhoods in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with up to 8,000 new homes (including 40% family homes). It is also securing tenants and operators for legacy venues and planning programmes of events and activities to make the Park an amenity for local people, a magnet for visitors, and a driver of economic development. The success of the new city district being built in and around the Park is crucial to demonstrate success and potential in the Growth Boroughs.
The economic model developed by Oxford Economics (PDF) demonstrates that achieving Convergence will require new enterprise and investment over and above that in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It also identifies the huge potential in the area for this to take place. Within the action plan key actions are identified to support this work taking place. This includes work with the GLA and TfL to ensure further improvements to the transport infrastructure are made. Host boroughs legacy transport action plan (PDF).
Reducing levels of violent crime and gang related violence remains a high priority and we aim to re-energise joint work in this area in a partnership between the Growth Boroughs, the GLA and the metropolitan police.
Cultural industries already make a significant contribution to the economy of the Growth Boroughs and initiatives like the Create festival and Create jobs support this as well as engendering community participation. Added to this, growth in tourism promised by developments in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Greenwich among others are set to deliver additional income into the area.
Through our work with the creative sector we aim to better connect the cultural quarters in the growth boroughs to local communities, significantly increase local participation and employment opportunities across the cultural and creative sector and make a positive contribution across all aspects of the Convergence agenda.