Rotherhithe CAN Meeting 01/11/2016 Notes

This was the second meeting of the Borough and Bankside Community Action Network after the split from Bermondsey. The meeting included our first resident-led presentation about the environmental impact of the proposed Canada Water Master Plan.

We have tried to capture links to the projects and resources discussed in the notes below, but if you would like any further information please don’t hesitate to contact us, 

A big thank you to the Silverlock TRA for hosting us!




An Intergenerational Divide?  

The headline topic of this meeting focused on whether, with all of the changes that have happened in recent years, an intergenerational divide has appeared? I suppose what we mean by this is as younger people have moved into the area is there a sense that older and younger people don’t mix anymore? What affect has this on a sense of community or togetherness? As support networks shrink do older people become more isolated?   

The general consensus was that a divide has well and truly developed and this id due to a number of reasons – some more difficult to explain than others. Most attendees had lived in the area for a number of years and have witnessed communities being broken up alongside the changing nature of housing in the area. As more social housing is sold off the population has become a lot more transient. Attendees spoke of a big increase in leaseholders who rent out properties – with new residents often only staying for short periods of time.  

Rotherhithe has a very rich history, however, the proposed Canada Water Masterplan development indicates that significant change is coming to the area. The point was raised that the older people remember the old Rotherhithe, feel that the area is now being ‘rubbished’. This makes people feel nervous, and can worsen the feelings of isolation that some are currently feeling.  

If Surrey Quays shopping centre closes it will be a huge blow to local older residents who use it as a place to socialise and meet others – especially as it has good transport links.  

With regards to young people, there is a feeling that they are not considered, and that more emphasis is placed on the transitional, professional workers, who can afford to buy a £500,000 house. It is felt that a significant number of people who live in Rotherhithe only have leases for six months, after which point the residents move on. This stop/start means that many residents are reluctant to get involved in initiatives in the area they live in.  

It was also noted that communities from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds mix with varying degrees of success – some not at all, others wholeheartedly. It is important to stress that the blame didn’t fall on any particular group here; it was considered more of a symptom of a changing world.  


Current Initiatives

Silverlock Hall  

  • Over 50s Workshop  
  • Together Well-being Hub have a drop-in at the Hall on Mondays from 2-5pm  
  • Edible Silverlock – a community allotment    
  • Coffee morning for medical services open to entire community  
  • Macmillan coffee mornings/quizzes  

Time and Talents  

Promotion of Services

This is very important for older people, who due to technical and physical constraints may be excluded from services.  

Engaging with local residents and getting local people connected from different age ranges and nationalities didn’t seem to be a problem for the attendees. All reported that any events that are involved in were well attended. The issues for them, was getting people of different groups to get involved in civic society.  

 It was pointed out that whilst this work is well needed in Rotherhithe, it is difficult to find appropriate support for it – particularly volunteers. The future of community led organisations, especially TRAs, is under threat as no one is coming through to take up the reins. This is of particular concern to people who give up an awful lot of their time to make sure that this doesn’t happen. Unless a new wave of support is found it is feared that many TRAs face very uncertain futures indeed. 

How to promote work  

  • Southwark News – although some feel that Rotherhithe issues are neglected by the paper.  
  • The end of the SE16 website has created a gap in communication that has yet to be filled  
  • Word of Mouth  
  • Community notice boards  
  • One suggestion of action is the creation of a physical and electronic newsletter.  

Successful Engagement  

Target Audience: Older people, and young families   

  • Churches were noted as being the only structure in Rotherhithe that was truly culturally diverse, and a starting place for open conversation  
  • Bermondsey South Local Partnership was outlined as being a great example of an organisation reaching out to local diverse communities successfully.  
  • Engaging with seldom-heard communities in the area, and getting members to engage in civic society was seen as a very difficult target; support from Community Southwark was offered.  

Why the Canada Water Master Plan should be a sustainable development  

The Canada Water Masterplan is currently a major talking point for how parts of Rotherhithe will change in the coming years. Zoltan Zavody, a Rotherhithe resident, is keen to focus on the environmental and energy performance of the new development and associated infrastructure and has several key questions he feels haven’t been answered. 

What will be the energy consumption of the new development? What will be the emissions? What impact will the development have on both the local and the global environment? Where does the development feature in the wider decarbonisation and cleaning up of our economy? 

Key points as a result of the discussion that followed: 

  • Air quality in the area is already quite poor, and it was felt that the council would not be taking substantial action against this.  
  • It was felt that Rotherhithe has become increasingly congested and that this has worsened since the closure of Tower Bridge.   
  • The increase in the number of cars (as a result of building 4000 new homes) will make the situation even worse. 
  • The quality of the new building was questioned by a number of residents, and that puts the zero carbon housing policy at risk.  
  • An increase in housing means that either more land space is taken, or there is an increase in high rise stacked flats  
  • Some residents feel that British Land have not done enough to consult with them, and that despite consultations taking place, this will not create change due to they just being seen as a requirement, rather than an opportunity to effectively engage communities.  

Zoltan will continue to try and get environmental issues on the agenda. If you want to get involved in his campaign the drop him a line:

If anyone would like more support in getting connected or developing ideas and initiatives please contact a member of our team:

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