Oval Partnership Briefing Note
External factors are often seen as beyond the control of a local community -inflation, house prices etc. On occasions, however, it is possible to influence some of those factors in the immediate environment so that the community benefits and the local economy moves in a favourable direction. Consider the following factors (click on links for more detailed brefing:
You may occasionally notice planning notifications on lamp posts or get something through the post about a development planned nearby. Anyone familiar with local planning rules will know there is an opportunity to comment and hence influence planning applications whether it be a small change to an existing building or a new 35 floor skyscraper. Reading planning lists is not for the faint hearted but in most communities someone will take an interest and let local resident groups know. One way or another the word gets out. If an application is contentious, it may well attract a lot of community attention and if so there is a greater chance of influencing the outcome.
With large developments, something called section 106 money is made available to reflect the impact of the development on the local environment. It might be used to provide green spaces, changes to roads, community facilities etc.. The types of things which this money can be spent are limited but the community often has an opportunity to influence how this is spent. The main difficulty with section 106 money is that it is not usually made available until the development is well underway. In many cases the local economy may have been aversely affected long before if, for example, a site has remained derelict/underused for many years.
In the context of the local economy, labour is much more than, say, a simple fixed number of workers. It is about a workforce with the right distribution of skills and experience to match available jobs. Specialist employers like local dentists, architect’s offices etc. cannot employ local people if none are qualified. A successful business will therefore depend on being able to recruit the right people with the right skills.
Developments like those planned at the Oval Cricket Ground, the VNEB OA etc. potentially bring a lot of jobs to the area but how many of these jobs will actually be filled by local people? Communities certainly have the opportunity to influence developers/businesses to employ local people but ultimately an employer can only employ those who have the relevant skills and experience.
When parking controls are first introduced to an area it begins to affect the micro-economy. Expenditure is switched from one part of the local economy to another. The biggest losers tend to be local businesses/shops relying on those who used to drive to the area. Over time, the range and type of business/shops that an area can support changes.
Parking control provides a large income for Lambeth and it would take a radical change in vision to alter that. Even if parking charges were eliminated, it would take years before businesses returned. Never the less, local communities can and should influence detailed parking arrangements whenever the opportunity arises. If the timing or layout of parking bays is wrong communities should voice their concerns. In practice, though the community rarely speaks with one voice on this issue and what change introduced is rarely favourable for the local economy.
Local shopping parades are important parts of the public realm. Those who own shops/businesses in these parades will invariably have invested a considerable amount of time and money there. The Oval Partnership has a specific interest in improving public realm areas including shopping parades. By making these safer and more attractive places to visit further investment by business owners will be encouraged and the local economy can only benefit.
If the plans envisaged by the VNEB OA materialise in full, the local economy will be altered significantly. Retail areas near the development will need to evolve or fail. Lambeth and Wandsworth are actively seeking community engagement so there is a possibility of influencing some aspects of the development.