Whose future is it anyway? Get involved or lose out….

On Monday we set 20 young people from Brixton a challenge about the future of their town centre.

We asked them how to get young people involved in decisions about the regeneration of Brixton. Decisions about employment, affordable space for new enterprise, housing and the kind of developments they’d like to see.

We asked them to think, not only about the options that should be considered, but also where they would live and work in 5 – 10 years’ time.

Lambeth is changing. It’s growing and it’s attracting millions of pounds worth of investment. Our commitment is to make sure that everyone gets a fair crack at the jobs, homes, cultural and business opportunities this brings.

But communities need to fight for their share in the proceeds of growth too, particularly young people who really are the future of Lambeth.

The Youth Council and the National Citizenship Service, who held the challenge, are planning similar across the borough from Waterloo and Vauxhall to Streatham and Norwood. The idea is that young people are better at engaging with their peers (provided they have the right support) than old geezers like me.

Since I took on the cabinet post for growth and jobs last month, I’ve been struck by the different attitudes towards growth. Those who see opportunity and ambition and those who fear change will leave them behind.

Regeneration is often seen through the eyes of cynics who are quick to criticise ‘gentrification’ but ignore the benefits. If ‘gentrification’ means cleaner streets and safer estates then I’m all for it.

But, there is a deafening silence from those who stand to benefit most; people in need of affordable housing, access to jobs and business opportunities, safer public spaces and more culture and leisure.

This comment, from a Vauxhall resident, says it all: “those jobs won’t be for us, those businesses won’t be for us.”

We have to work together to make sure that’s not the case. But we also need to shout about the good stuff happening now – like Block Workout and all at Number 6, Steadman Scott’s boxing at the Rec, Ovalhouse coming soon, grow:brixton, the list goes on.

My challenge to you is find out what’s going on, make sure your voice is heard or sit back and let it pass you by. It’s your future.

Some ways to get involved

Come to an event listed on the events calender


Author: jackhopkins

Labour Councillor for Oval ward in London Borough of Lambeth, and Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth covering economic development, regeneration, planning and entrepreneurship. (formerly Community Safety) Interested in partnerships, training and development, social mobility and Arsenal.

One thought on “Whose future is it anyway? Get involved or lose out….”

  1. I agree with a lot of what you say Jack, but I don’t think discussions about change are enough, the official processes for letting people have their voice heard need to be respected too.

    In central Brixton, we have had 20-30 restaurants open without planning permission. Our streets and doorsteps are being used as toilets, there are people taking their drinks from Market Row and sitting about on Electric Avenue, there is noise 6 days a week until midnight, it is not unforeseeable that the market as a retail destination may go forever.

    Nobody was ever really asked about that, and those who did make their voice heard were not listened to.

    So, jobs and investment: yes; crowd-sourcing ideas for the future: yes. But I wonder if some of the resistance you are describing is because many will see it as bypassing the planning process or skipping the hard discussions with residents

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