A major competition has confirmed what most Brixton residents already know – that it’s a fantastic place to live and work.
The town centre has beaten off tough competition to scoop the ‘Great Neighbourhood’ title at the Academy of Urbanism Awards, an annual scheme which aims to highlight and promote the best urban environments where great design and regeneration are improving people’s quality of life.
The judges praised a range of schemes and projects in Brixton that have helped to improve the area in recent years, including the regeneration of Windrush Square, which was completed in 2010 and was a joint project between Lambeth Council, Transport for London (TfL), Design for London and the local community.
In making the award, the judges said: “Lambeth Council, working with local people and agencies, has tackled many inner city issues which contributed to a negative public image, such as drug dealing and gang culture and declining market, retail and business sectors; without losing the vitality and diversity that it is famous for. It has changed from a ‘no go’ area to an attractive and inviting place to live, work and visit.”
Commenting on the Windrush Square improvements the judges added: “A heart has been created where before there was an unfriendly traffic island, and a variety of social and economic regeneration projects have breathed a fresh sense of pride into living, working and visiting Brixton.”
They also praised the area as an example of where the council had encouraged the development of independent business, and where the local community has been encouraged to become involved in planning major changes, such as the improvements to Windrush Square. The covered area of Brixton market, which a few years ago was in serious decline, has been transformed into one of London’s most talked about food areas after the council, the market’s owners and local entrepreneurs worked together on a plan to secure its future and turn it around.
Cllr Lib Peck, Cabinet member for Regeneration on Lambeth Council, said: “This award will come as no surprise to local people who know what a fantastic place Brixton is, but it’s great to have outside recognition for some of the really positive changes that local people, business and the council have worked together to achieve over the past few years.
“Challenges remain, not least making sure that all Brixton residents can share in the improvements the town has seen and ensuring the unique character that makes the place so special is not lost. But I’m really excited and confident about the future. Brixton has a really strong community that works positively with the council to get things done, and that’s one of the main reasons it’s such a great place.”
Brixton beat off stiff competition from two other neighbourhoods on the shortlist Bourneville, Birmingham, and the Creative Quarter, Folkestone, after expert judges visited all three areas earlier this year.
Local people have recently helped to draft planning guidance for Brixton town centre which will hopefully be adopted in Spring 2013. This is part of the council’s Future Brixton programme which aims to provide more homes and jobs, alongside better open spaces and public facilities.
The awards were announced at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London, on 9 November 2012
The Academy of Urbanism is a self-funded, politically independent organization led by over 500 leaders, thinkers and practitioners involved in the social, cultural, economic, political and physical development of villages, towns and cities.
For more information see: www.academyofurbanism.org.uk