Nature reserve, pensioners’ centre, and playgrounds among those awarded over £2.4m by council

24 July 2023

Southwark Council has approved over £2.4m in funding for seven community projects to help local neighbourhoods be great places to live for residents of all ages.

Over £1.4m was awarded to six projects put forward by local people and organisations, including improvements to Lavender Pond Nature Reserve.

Lavender Pond was originally Lavender Dock. It opened in 1815 as a timber pond (shallow waters where timber floated to avoid drying out) and was connected to the northern end of the Thames. It was drained in the 1970s and left derelict until 1981 when it was turned into the pond and nature reserve. This makes it one of the oldest urban nature reserves in the country. It is home to a number of important habitats: open water, marsh, meadow, reed bed and trees.

Residents from all walks of life visit the nature reserve to connect with and learn about nature, wildlife and conservation, including hundreds of children each year.

The site is managed by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV). The council is working with them and resident-led group Friends of Lavender Pond to restore the site.

Stage one is complete where the retaining wall of the pond was replaced. Now the project team will be looking to redesign the site and improve biodiversity, habitat, accessibility and learning opportunities.

The money for these projects was raised by the council through a levy on development schemes (new buildings such as housing, hotels or shops) known as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). It’s just one of the ways in which developments and developers can give back to the community.

The council is also putting £1m of Strategic CIL funding towards a new home in Camberwell for Southwark Pensioners Centre as one of the borough’s anchor institutions that all residents over 50 can access. This money, alongside the centre’s own fundraising, will help the service expand and reach more older people as they see an increase in the number of those who are vulnerable and isolated.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Communities, Democracy and Finance: “In neighbourhoods across Southwark, development has created new homes, new jobs, and more trade. Local CIL money lets us make sure that this does not outpace local infrastructure needs and we invest the money right back into the neighbourhoods in which they were generated.

“We are delighted that local CIL money helps towards securing the future of a range of local projects that support local growth and benefit our communities. The new Southwark Pensioners Centre and restoring Lavender Pond Nature Reserve are just two examples; both safe havens for the community in their own way.”

Mike Turner, warden at Lavender Pond Nature Reserve, said: “This money from the council is a fantastic boost that will help us enhance Lavender Pond Nature Reserve and its surroundings, and build on the great work done by our TCV volunteers here. We welcome hundreds of visitors each year, from families and school groups, to wildlife enthusiasts and people just looking to connect with nature. We are so excited to use CIL money to invest in our habitats, increase biodiversity and accessibility, and open up more ways to teach people about it all.”

Residents put forward more than 1,000 suggestions on how to use CIL money using the council’s novel map-based website launched in March 2020. Shortlisted projects were approved by the council’s cabinet according to their ward on 8 December 2020 and 19 January 2021.

Besides the Lavender Pond Nature Reserve, five priority CIL projects are being awarded additional funds to help them complete:

  • Children’s play equipment at Camberwell Green
  • A pedestrian crossing for East Dulwich Road / Dulwich Grove
  • Improvements to Leathermarket Gardens Community Hub
  • A new gate and pedestrian crossing for Southwark Park Road
  • A new community space for Leyton Square
  • Improvements to Alexis Street playground and park

Page last updated: 31 July 2023

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