Sunday, 29 April 2012

What is UCL up to in VNEOBA?

A project based at UCL has been writing to community organisations

in large regeneration areas including the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea Opportunity Area, as highlighted by the government, and where developments are likely to occur very soon. ‘Boris Johnson's initiative has identified 33 Opportunity Areas in London, which are brownfield sites (land that has previously been built upon) with the potential for new housing and commercial development, and improvements to public transport accessibility. More information of these sites can be found here on the London Government's website (page 5 showing the Opportunity Areas). The UCL project, in partnership with Just Space ( wants to ensure that communities are fairly consulted, represented and included in any developments that might occur in your locality…. This project is also producing an interactive map with a directory of all the community groups in your area. This will enable you to easily contact other groups, to see what they are involved in or how you could work together, and discuss any barriers to your involvement in the regeneration process. The map is in its infancy’  but can be shared with groups if they are interested.

‘To help our research and to help us better understand how best to support the community groups, any information you could pass onto me about you community group and your activities would be greatly appreciated. For example, how long the group has existed and how many members you have. Have you heard about the Opportunity Areas before, and is your group participating in the process of regeneration? Have you come across any obstacles that have prevented you from becoming involved in the planning process?’ 

An invitation was also included to a London Tenants Federation event on 2 May in Kingston-upon-Thames to discuss regeneration, development and opportunities that are happening in the South West London area…’ ‘This is a great opportunity to meet other community groups’ and a project worker ‘to get a better understanding of what Opportunity Areas are, and how these developments may affect you.’ 

As someone who has been producing newsletters covering VNEBOA for a long time, this is the first time I can recall hearing about this project. So on 15 April I emailed on 15 April asking for the answers to be following questions.

(1) When did UCL and Just Space get awarded the project?

(2) When was the tender process?

(3) Who else was invited to tender?

(4) Who is funding the project?

(5) Which community groups were consulted in VNEBOA about whether they wished such a project to have money spent on it?

(6) Has Cross River Partnership been consulted about the information it assembled when it covered part of the VNEBOA area?

(7) Why does the project assume that local groups in the VNEBOA have not been involved in the issues, taking part in consultations, making representations, etc?

(8) Have you consulted the Kennington, Vauxhall and Oval Forum which brings together local organisations about this project?

(9) Given Kingston event is miles away from VNEBOA when is a meeting planned to be held in the VNEBOA?

(10) Why does the project think that groups will have any real influence in the OAs when in the case of VNEBOA the developers call the shots, the Councils are desperate for action, the Mayor and Government fully behind it, and planning controls loosened to make it more difficult to oppose applications?

(11) Why should anyone take UCL seriously when it has been a major developer eating up whole areas of its part of London, has done so much damage to the unity of the London University federation and has failed as yet to post a single event to promote Universities to the general public on the Universities Week website?

I await the reply with interest.

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