Council allocation of £6m fund to breathe new life into community spaces

19 January 2021

Southwark Council approved funding for 29 projects put forward by local people and organisations to support growth in their neighbourhoods, as part of a £6m investment drive back into the borough.

The council raised roughly £23m in Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) between 2015 and 2020. Last year, up to 25 percent of this – almost £6m – was made available as local CIL funding to be spent on community projects that can be completed by 31 December 2023.

The Community Infrastructure Levy is a levy raised on development schemes (new buildings such as housing, hotels or shops) and the money is used by the council to fund local infrastructure projects. It’s just one of the ways in which developments and developers can give back to the community – especially to those who've been impacted by the building works (such as neighbours who had to put up with noise or temporary road closures).

Residents put forward more than 1,000 suggestions on how to use money raised from the levy using the council’s novel map-based website launched back in March 2020.

Shortlisted projects were split into two groups to be presented for approval by the council’s cabinet according to their ward, with the first 37 community projects approved last month.

In total, 66 projects will be allocated money in this latest round of local CIL funding and more could follow as more money becomes available in the future.

Cllr Alice Macdonald, cabinet member for communities and equalities, said: “We are committed to ensuring that development in the borough works for all. In Southwark, we’ve made sure money raised from the levy is allocated to community infrastructure projects local to the development schemes from which they were generated.

“I’d like to thank everyone who came forward with an idea or project during the consultation. Projects were awarded funding after careful consideration of how they benefit the ward as a whole and whether they align with local priorities.

“Investment in community facilities and open spaces was a key theme across wards and we’ve approved funding for a number of projects supporting this aim. This includes the delivery of a new state-of-the-art youth and community space at Leyton Square, in line with the commitments set out in the Social Regeneration Charter for Old Kent Road.”

Residents can also look forward to increased accessibility to Walworth Garden, where local money raised from the levy will be used to improve both the site and building to create an environmental learning centre able to cater to more attendees of their workshops and accredited training programmes, which currently run at capacity.

Local CIL money will fund a major improvements and new landscaping at the green in and around Alexis Street playground, as part of a wider plan to design with residents a new park for Bermondsey. This open space project will include an outdoor gym, plots to grow fruit and vegetables, a picnic area and seating, an adventure playground, and dedicated social space for young people, with a view to reinstate the tradition of holding funfairs on the site.

The Walworth Living Room, a neighbourhood hub run by charity Pembroke House with social space and community café based in All Saints Hall, will receive levy funding to convert unused sections of the heritage building into additional flexible, affordable space available to local residents where they can meet, work, learn and access support.

Mike Wilson, Executive Director of Pembroke House, said: "It's fantastic to receive news of this local CIL support for the Walworth Living Room. Our thanks to Southwark Council, our local councillors and all the residents who backed the project.

"We've all seen how important flexible community spaces like this have been through the pandemic, playing host to emergency food and support services. As we emerge from lockdown, it's clear that they will be more important than ever, as we need safe and welcoming spaces to meet as residents and partners and start building stronger neighbourhoods together."

Cllr Alice Macdonald added: “I’m excited for these projects to get off the ground with the help of local CIL money as they’re set to bring significant benefits to residents of all ages, from promoting greener, healthier lifestyles to fostering a sense of community belonging and resilience, that will help our neighbourhoods to grow and thrive.”

If project supporters are not contacted by their local CIL officer, their project is not being taken forward at this time.

Future rounds of local CIL funding and other council grants are open to all residents and community groups regardless of previous submissions.

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Page last updated: 21 January 2021

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