Wednesday, July 10, 2013

THE COMMUNITY-LED TRANSFORMATION OF LORDSHIP REC

Friends of Lordship Rec, Tottenham www.lordshiprec.org.uk

Lordship Rec, Tottenham's largest public park at 26ha, is bordered by 2 large Council estates (Broadwater Farm and Tower Gardens) and streets of terraced housing of all tenures. 12 years ago when the Friends of Lordship Rec set up it was a poorly-maintained and virtually abandoned park with no on-site staffing, no flower beds, semi-derelict buildings, poor quality and decaying infrastructure, and few organised user groups or activities apart from a mother and toddler group running an old hut, and a local youth football club (Broadwater United) managing the enclosed sports pitch they’d helped to rescue in the 1980s.

Inspired by the community-led regeneration of the Broadwater Farm estate in the 1980s and early 90s, and the successful campaign for extensive traffic calming on the Tower Gardens estate in the late 1990s, in 2002 the Friends conducted an initial park users How Can Our Park Be Improved? survey, and then teamed up with Broadwater United FC to launch the Lordship Rec Users Forum (LRUF). The aims of the Forum were to get all the stakeholders' organisations (User Groups, Council, Residents Associations, Schools etc.) to work together, to promote and encourage a range of new user groups, to develop a community-led vision to regenerate the site, to lobby for the resources needed to achieve that vision, and to move towards joint community/Council management of the site.

Both the Friends and the Users Forum have ever since continued to meet monthly and to consult the public widely to achieve the above, and indeed our achievements have multiplied beyond even our own wildest expectations!

* The number, breadth and membership of dedicated autonomous user groups has mushroomed, and now includes the Friends, Broadwater United FC, a new Lordship Rec FC, Wildlife Group, the Mother & Toddler Group, Walking Group, Running Group, Back 2 Earth environmental charity, Trax youth cycling club, Brakethru mobility cycling club, Shell Performing Arts Collective, River Moselle Management Group
* Guided by the results of public surveys and consultation efforts, and after 5 years of discussions, preparations, planning and design, and lobbying of funding bodies, the LRUF and Council succeeded in obtaining £5m, mainly from the Heritage Lottery Fund, for much-needed regeneration works. Weekly LRUF/Council coordination meetings have just overseen the completion of these works, including a brand-new flower-lined channel for the River Moselle, a new Loop bike dirt track, an Environmental Hub building with cafe and classroom, refurbishment of the Shell Theatre along with a new park staff team depot, renovation of the enclosed sports pitch, restoration of the historic and nationally-unique Model Traffic Area, new meadows, flower-beds and tree planting, and general improvements to drainage, paths and entrances
* There are now a wide range of public activities and events in the park organised by local groups, including our annual LRUF-organised Community Festival. 2012's 'relaunch' festival on September 22nd introduced the new facilities and attracted 8,000 local residents, double our previous highest turnout.
* Building upon the growing partnerships and co-management philosophy developed in the last few years at every level of decision-making, the Friends, LRUF and Council are committed to the ongoing co-management of the park as a whole, and the micro-management of each of its facilities and features, eg Lordship Woodland and Lake / Friends; Bike track / Trax Club; Spinney / Lordship Wildlife Group; Eco-Hub / Community Room; Football Field / Broadwater United; Community Gardens / Back 2 Earth; + similar micro-partnership arrangements for the River Moselle and the Shell Theatre.
* Inspired by the improvements achieved so far the key partners continue to meet for fortnightly Lordship Coordination meetings to monitor any ongoing works, discuss and plan further improvements and the fundraising necessary to achieve them, and to encourage and coordinate a wide range of events and activities by user groups.

It can be truly said that an inspiring and path-breaking community-led total transformation of this vital but neglected space is being achieved by exemplary community/Council partnership-working and LOTS of hard work!



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