In recent Central Corridor sub-regional network meetings, tenant representatives have discussed how living near the Central Activities Zone impacts their communities. As a result, the network has been collectively mapping the places where local authority and housing association tenants think investment should be prioritised, producing alternative map to the Mayor of London’s.
What is the Central Activities Zone?
The Central Activities Zone was first mentioned in the Greater London Council’s ‘Greater London Development Plan Alterations’ in September 1984. In this document, the CAZ was surrounded by ‘Community Areas’, which were intentionally left out of the CAZ to emphasise that they should be protected from the expansion of CAZ activities. Yet, the GLC was dissolved before this guidance was passed. The CAZ was later set out in a document by the London Planning Advisory Committee called ‘Strategic Planning Advice for London: Policies for the 1990s’. The exact boundaries, however, were to be defined by the individual development plans for each of the boroughs, as with Opportunity Areas. The CAZ has its own Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG), which is a formal supplement to the London Plan relating to planning policy in ‘London’s globally iconic core’.
What is the problem with this?
As the GLC suggested, the CAZ was meant to exclude communities to protect them from encroaching development. LTF questions, however, whether these communities are actually protected, and whether the impacts of the intensive speculative investment and development within the CAZ can be contained within the Zone’s boundaries. We know from lived experience that this has not been the case. Prioritisation of tourism, business, and international and speculative investment reaches across the artificial boundaries. As a result, we are creating our own map – with input from as many TRAs as possible – to show what a Central Community Activities Zone might look like, and where existing communities want to see investment focused.
What does our map look like so far?
We’ve started identifying social housing in the CAZ, and have tagged social housing estates or streets in Camden, Islington, Southwark and most of Westminster (we’ve also added in the Lancaster West estate in K&C). We’ve also started adding photos of the estates we have listed.
It has been a bit difficult to identify estates that fall in or near the CAZ in the other boroughs because we haven’t been able to find publicly published (and easily readable) comprehensive lists or maps. We also haven’t been able to capture all of the housing association-owned properties/estates. If you think you can help with either issue, please email email@example.com.
What is next?
Housing isn’t the only thing that is important to the social housing communities already living in Central London and at risk of being displaced by further speculative investment and development. So, we want to map social infrastructure. Alan Latham and Jack Layton (UCL) explain that social infrastructure is the places that support public life, counter social cohesion, negotiate difference and promote inclusion. It is the places where communities feel a distinct sense of belonging, or which provide key resources for their success. It helps cities (in our case, London,) function because it creates opportunities for inclusive social connection.
Examples of social infrastructure:
- Parks and other green space
- Community and youth centres
- Sports pitches and recreational sports facilities
- Cafes and community-focused restaurants, including pubs
- Public squares
We invite you to share your thoughts:
- What has been your experience living in or around the CAZ, or within a borough that falls in the CAZ?
- What kind of social infrastructure would you like to see as a priority for investment? Focus on the community assets that support tenants and their communities, and which you want to see more support for. (Maybe that’s libraries and youth centres or green spaces or all three — or, possibly, more!).
- How do you think proximity to the CAZ has impacted the delivery of social housing in your borough?
We also need photos of the housing estates and community spaces we include on our map. We invite you to take some and share your favourites with us.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts and photos or for more information.