Throughout the summer of 2019, Lambeth Council moved onto the next phase of their Brixton Liveable Neighbourhood Project, opening up the conversation and asking for responses.
Below is Friends of the Earth Lambeth’s response with a number of points that we hope to see resolved in order for this project to achieve its true potential.
Friends of the Earth Lambeth has long campaigned in favour of measures to improve air quality and provide greener transport for our community, so we are encouraged to see projects like this being implemented.
However, upon scrutinising the project, we feel there are a number of shortcomings, risks and opportunities that Lambeth Council should address.
We therefore urge the Council to implement the following points into the project.
1. The project must be aligned with Lambeth’s Response to the Climate Crisis.
Lambeth Council’s response to the climate crisis, the Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan, is currently not mentioned in the project. With such obvious cross-over in objectives and outcomes, notably with your plans to develop a borough wide carbon reduction plan, it seems a shame not to link this project with Lambeth’s declaration of a climate emergency. In order to be successful in achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030, we recommend that all projects launched by the Council or projects of which the Council is a stakeholder must be looked at from the Climate Emergency perspective.
2. Local businesses must be supported in this project
The project outlines that it will help local businesses, however there is no mention of the circular economy and how this project will incorporate circular economy waste principles, mineral plans and waste management plans and contracts, as well promoting community sharing, reuse and recycling. Businesses in the area need to be supported and encouraged to access new schemes and services on all of these fronts.
3. Greening objectives need more development
At the moment the project is light on greening objectives – it is mentioned for Railton, ‘public spaces’ in Ferndale, and a general wider measure around green spaces. The plan does not currently mention the need to green our streets as described in Lambeth’s Transport Strategy (Consultation Draft). Areas suitable for green screens and street trees must be identified and developed. Only 3% of Lambeth is woodland, and this project represents a fantastic opportunity to increase this as part of your plans to improve green spaces.
We also pose the following questions about the project:
1. What steps are being taken to ensure this project is inclusive as possible?
As part of a just transition to a greener economy, it is essential to ensure that the poorest in our communities do not shoulder the cost of change. Whilst ‘promoting social inclusion’ and ‘giving [voices]’ are mentioned as key aims for the project, little elaboration is made. Please provide more detail on this matter and let us know how our organisation and others can help on this front.
2. Have the implications of rerouting traffic been considered, and have mitigating steps been taken?
If car access is restricted in Brixton, then commuters may drive around the area, leading to more driving in total. This means there is a risk of increasing emissions from cars, increasing the area’s contribution to climate change and diminishing air quality. While we welcome the project, we also believe that any risk of it having an inadvertent negative effect must be addressed.
3. What opportunities are there to share this model with other communities?
Local change is laudable, but the climate emergency is an all-encompassing issue. Communities everywhere need to be implementing deep and meaningful change to tackle the climate emergency. We would be interested to hear what plans there are to share knowledge with other Boroughs – in London and further afield – to encourage them to undertake similar projects. Likewise, the response to the current consultation indicate there is a widespread demand for other communities in Lambeth to benefit from similar projects. The Council must distribute information on future plans to expand, replicate or provide access to similar projects across all of Lambeth.
Once again, we welcome the project and celebrate its ambition and scope. However, the above points are integral to its success and positive effect on the community, and therefore ask the Council to consider them with the level of depth that a project of this value deserves.