The Council and Hackney Homes are wanting to create a cycle path that links to the canal near Broadway Market in East London, which is an already gentrified area where the needs and wants of the more affluent residents and visitors have defined a high street, which was once accessible and used by a more generally diverse section of society.
This path will cut directly across a pedestrianised part of Regents Estate, a rare place in London that stills sees children and young people of all ages playing outside together.
The proposed path will be right next to a children’s playground and a primary school. The children often run, cycle and scoot directly across to the shop to buy snacks and sweets with their pocket-money, as well as just use the space to socialise.
The council ran a ‘consultation’ that involved discussing their plans with Regents Estate Tenant Resident Association, which is formed by a small group of individuals, comprised mainly of the older generation. The TRA has opposed the path’s implementation, and put up a strong case to stand against it’s development. People however still feared the council will go ahead with the plans, as one resident remarked that despite their efforts to inform and engage the local residents only 5% of people responded to their survey about the development. This is not surprising considering the efforts and methods the council used to engage with the users of the area. The consultation involved them handing out feedback forms to houses on the estate; but did not think about asking the young people in the area.
We discussed this new development with the community on Regents estate as worried parents came to us over their concerns for their young ones. As we co-run a youth and community engagement project here we have a well-established relationship with many of the residents. We discovered that the vast majority of them were unaware about these plans and are actually against the path due to it disrupting community cohesion and undermines children’s safety.
We then asked the children and young people how they feel about this, and again the same sort of response was received – they don’t want the path due to it cutting across an area in which they play freely.
They decided they wanted to have a “play-in” and a community picnic to express in a more illustrative way how they use and enjoy the space. We also took this as an opportunity to consulate more passer-bys about the path and therefore gain more evidence for the council of the true voice of the community.
Here are some pics of the day: