- Imam Dr Driss Boumzough
A random and changeable list of what residents say they want, compiled in December 2007.
- Pepler House stays. The people of The Republic of Pepler House have asked for their building to be listed. Whether or not this happens, they say they will never allow it to be demolished.
- Munro Mews stays. A survey of the mews residents found that virtually everyone would refuse to move.. the only people willing to move wanted to downsize but stay on the estate.
- Athlone Gardens stays. This park has beautiful mature trees and is ‘the lungs’ of the estate. It needs to be improved for all ages, for families with young children, for young people, for the disabled who represent 20% of the neighbourhood, and for dogs and their owners. In fine weather benches and tables are often used by local men playing board-games and cards, and for informal discussion. It is so popular in summer that families have to be asked to leave at the end of the day. This should be encouraged as it offers natural surveillance of the park; it is a social space and focal point of the neighbourhood away from the bustle of the market. The children’s playground is a disgrace and should be updated. Residents do NOT want formal gardens, but somewhere attractive for all ages to meet, socialise, kick a football, and get some air.
- The community stays. One resident said: ‘the prize here is the community’. It is a very stable and solid community, well integrated and family oriented; many have been there for several generations, including immigrant families. There are many older people who are supported by the community. Those who want to stay must be able to stay, and not decanted for years on end elsewhere. Imam Driss says: ‘Even three months is too long’.
- the Venture Centre is the local community centre, and has a nursery with playground and playcentre with adventure playground. It is constantly packed with classes, meetings etc, and religious groups at weekends. The building and land are owned by the Council, and are next to but not connected to the park which is also owned and managed by the Council. It definitely needs to be redeveloped. Some current ideas for this are:
- community centre to give on one side to the park, possibly share play spaces? This could be closed off from either side when appropriate. Possibly share a café with the park; again this could be accessed from two sides and shut off when appropriate. More and larger interior spaces are needed, and some imaginative flexible arrangements incorporated, eg, hall with stage/gallery could be used as an entertainment space, for classes, then on Fridays for the Mosque with separate gallery space for women. Also, room next to nursery could have shuttered windows that could be used to block out light for children to nap, or for yoga classes for older people, or as a social space for veiled women who need total privacy.
- interiors of flats, there have been a number of requests for flexibility of internal space. Pepler House has sliding doors between kitchen and sitting room, and there have been comments that this is very useful for entertaining. Families from all communities place great importance on keeping the family together, some Muslim families ask if there could be flexibility for men and women to socialise separately in the home. There could be ways of doing this by intelligent use of flexible space within the home.
- many residents have discussed the desirability for outside space for each flat – enough for all the occupants of each flat to be able to eat outside. Such a terrace, patio or balcony large enough for small children to play safely, or for a table and chairs and few pot plants, would be highly treasured.
- Most residents are highly sceptical about offering full market properties on the estate, especially when many have adult children who would like to buy/part-buy in the area to stay near their relatives. Local consensus on how to create tenure mix is for a modest mix catering where possible for local families first. Close-knit families can be kept close-knit, as the different generations care for each other at different life stages.
One comment that is regularly made is for more sports facilities. It is felt that, though there are facilities for more able young people and adults within 15 minutes’ walking distance, small children and the elderly and disabled are not catered for in the immediate area. One suggestion has been for a small hydrotherapy pool. This could be used by local disabled groups, older people, those with limited physical ability, and for small children to learn to swim. Hydrotherapy is remarkably effective and can dramatically improve mobility and lessen dependence on painkilling medication. Such a pool could possibly pay for itself by being hired out at certain times to groups in neighbouring boroughs, private baby swimming classes etc. A logical space for this could be the little-used basketball court opposite the college in Wornington Road, as this already has a deep excavation.
While there is a majority feeling that the blocks surrounding Athlone Gardens should stay, there also seems to be a broad agreement that some of the central and west blocks of the estate with deck access could be expendable, that it is here that the most gain in terms of additional units to house overcrowded residents can be made. Something exciting and imaginative can be done with this space that will fulfil the need for more and larger units.
Residents are generally against having small pockets of unusable space between buildings as at present, as they attract dog mess and rubbish and are wasted space. And while many agree that there needs to be more services such as shops, nurseries, Doctor/dentist clinics etc on or near the estate, there seems to be a consensus against evening/late night cafes and bars which may create noise and nuisance and not mix well with family housing.
Also, due to the number of families with young children and older people with limited physical ability, it is not generally agreed that Wornington/Portobello Roads should be reconnected for vehicular traffic with Ladbroke Grove. Streets where people predominate rather than cars are seen to be preferable, possibly paved ‘play streets’ where cars enter on sufferance.
LINK TO: THE EXPERTS VIEW ON GOOD BUILDINGS