Latin Elephant advocates for a more inclusive understanding of urban policy in London and as such we promote the contribution that migrant and ethnic communities make to London’s diverse economies and cultures. Latin Elephant’s policy recommendation to the London Plan on the importance of migrant and ethnic economies was acknowledged and adopted in the Further Alterations to the London Plan 2015.
The feedback to NSP includes reasoned justifications for supporting migrant and ethnic retail in Southwark and why we deemed this to be an important component for inclusion in the New Southwark Plan. We also offer recommendations and feedback to specific policies on ‘business, employment and enterprise’ and ‘Town Centres’ by drawing on our recent consultation and work with retailers and community groups in the area. We hope to see these points addressed and taken into consideration when reviewing the proposed Plan for Southwark.
Pueblito Paisa in Seven Sisters Market, is home to the second largest concentration of Latin American businesses in London, and as its name suggests the retailers are mostly Colombian, but there are also retailers from Peru and Cuba. Wards Corner – the building that houses Pueblito Paisa – is also home to retailers of African, Afro-Caribbean and Indian descent. A manual survey of Seven Sisters Market revealed that 23 units (out of 39) were occupied by Latin American retailers (Roman-Velazquez, 2013). Pueblito Paisa’s contribution to the local economy is supported by wider community networks and strong community engagement.
Latin Elephant submitted this response to Tottenham Action Area Plan (TAAP) in collaboratin with Pueblito Paisa, Ltd. and West Green Rd & Seven Sisters Development Trust. We continue to promote the contribution that migrant and ethnic communities make to London’s diverse economies and cultures and for supporting exisiting migrant and ethnic retail in Tottenham.
Latin Elephant has made progress in promoting the contribution that migrant and ethnic communities make to London’s diverse economies and cultures.
Latin Elephant’s advocacy for inclusion of migrant and ethnic economies took a positive turn when one of our recommendations was adopted in the London Plan 2015. Not all we asked for was acknowledged, and more is needed to fully address the needs of migrant and ethnic economies in London, but this is a step in the right direction.
What we argued:
Latin Elephant’s Chair, Patria Roman highlighted a gap between urban policy and migrant and ethnic economies in the London Plan. Large proportion of regeneration programmes in London are triggered by existing and proposed opportunity areas in the London Plan. This in turn is happening in London’s most deprived boroughs where the proportion of migrant and ethnic businesses is high.
This disconnect between urban policy and migrant and ethnic economies trickles down to borough level where the mechanisms to manage change are not robust enough to ensure that existing small migrant and ethnic economies remain viable and vital.
The London Plan comes short of mentioning or even acknowledging migrant and ethnic economies in equal terms with other economies: e.g. technology, creative industries are explicitly addressed in the London Plan.
Recommendation to policy 4.8:
POLICY 4.8: SUPPORTING A SUCCESSFUL AND DIVERSE RETAIL SECTOR AND RELATED FACILITIES AND SERVICES
Clause g ‘manage clusters of uses having regard to their positive and negative impacts on the objectives, policies and priorities of the London Plan…
What we asked for:
We asked for an acknowledgement of the importance of migrant and ethnic clusters in promoting social and community cohesion by adding an extra point to policy 4.8 g viii (page 171-172).
Policy 4.8 g viii (page 171-172) acknowledges the ‘potential to realise the economic benefits of London’s diversity’ by making reference to paragraph 3.3 in Chapter 3: London’s People which highlights the Mayor’s commitment to ensuring that London ‘provides equal life chances for all its people, enabling them to realise their potential and aspirations, make a full contribution to the economic success of their city – and share in its benefits – while tackling problems of deprivation, exclusion and discrimination that impede them’.
Supporting specialist ethnic and migrant retail is relevant for regeneration schemes across London and a pertinent policy aspect at borough level.
Regeneration offers opportunities for growth and with the right mechanisms in place existing migrant and ethnic economies and small and micro enterprises in boroughs across London can continue to thrive and contribute to London’s economic growth, vibrancy and cultural diversity.
We will continue to advocate at Borough levels for the adoption of measures and mechanisms in support of migrant and ethnic economies and highlight that these need to be in line with the London Plan 2015.
Link to London Plan, March 2015: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/planning/london-plan/further-alterations-to-the-london-plan
The Latin Quarter Workshop, hosted by Latin Elephant was held on 19th November 2014 and brought together around 60 participants, including 21 Latin American traders and business owners, local councillors, representatives of the development companies involved in the regeneration of the area, representatives of community and voluntary organisations, architects and researchers.
Attendants were divided into 5 groups which held focussed discussions on three main themes: identity, public space and community in the context of the Latin Quarter. Participants were encouraged to identify the key positive and negative aspects of the current situation of the business community and brainstorm ideas for projects that would meet the needs of Latin American traders and wider Latin community.
This was a great opportunity for different stakeholders to raise the issues they are facing and have a positive dialogue with decision makers and other interested parties about the future of the area. (Read the full report here)
These project ideas are the result of the different discussions held by each group during the workshop. They are strategies and projects which could be implemented together or separately in order to address the current needs of the community and look towards the future.
1. Latin Quarter Visual Identity
This project consists of a branding strategy for the area as the Latin Quarter, which will include unifying elements of design to connect the
four business clusters and tell the story of the Latin American business
community at the Elephant.
Murals decorating the railway arches and bridge would reflect the colour and vibrancy of Latin American identity.
Bilingual street signs are used in many cities to reflect the presence of ethnic communities in the area, provide more accessible information and a sense of ownership and recognition.
A guide to the local businesses could include stories of Latin American traders at the Elephant, advertise products and services and highlight social events. Business directories and maps are used to provide information about successful shopping parades in London, such as Carnaby Street and Seven Dials
2. Latin Boulevard
Also know as Calle Latina, this boulevard will be the main focus and attraction of the Latin Quarter. It will connect Elephant Road with Eagle’s Yard through unifying urban design elements, such as pavement, lights and street furniture. The Boulevard will be pedestrianised in the afternoon and evening, in order to create a safe and enjoyable public space to gather, play and host events.
Elephant & Castle train station is an important point of access to the Latin Boulevard. Murals and design elements on the platforms and entrance to the station can be used to reflect the history of Latin American traders in the area. This approach is used in many parts of London, such as the stations on the Overground line.
Maps around Elephant and Castle will show the types of businesses on Latin Boulevard, increasing accessibility to other communities, and indicating the large spread of trades and services available in the Quarter.
New and improved pedestrian crossings will ensure safety and accessibility and will link Latin Boulevard with the wider area. Proposals include a crossing on Walworth Road under the bridge, to follow pedestrian desire lines.
Gateways to the area would create strong signifiers to attract and welcome visitors to the Latin Boulevard, and physically define the Quarter. They should contain elements of design and create bright, open and inviting spaces.
3. Public Realm Improvements
A public realm improvement strategy would address a range of
issues identified in the workshop, such as safety, attractiveness of the
area and coherent urban design. The delivery of the required work can be undertaken in partnership with the local business community through setting up a management board, together with the Council, developers and other partners such as Network Rail and voluntary organisations.
Outdoor seating will increase the functionality of public realm, creating safe and enjoyable pockets of space to gather, rest and eat. Street furniture can be placed outside the arches especially between Walworth Road and the train station, where there is more room and shelter.
Lighting is an essential element for improving safety and appearance, especially along the railway arches and under the bridge. Solutions could take the form of art installations, such as this example from Hungerford Bridge.
Refurbishment of the railway arches would meet the needs of growing and emerging businesses, and would support the flexible approach taken by Latin American traders to share the space between a variety of uses. Improving the appearance of storefronts by incorporating elements of design and art would make the business clusters more visible and attractive.
By creating a shared space on Latin Boulevard, serving deliveries in the morning and open to pedestrians in the afternoons, the street would become a public space which can be improved through landscaping and functional elements.
4. Latin American Food and Craft Market
Food, arts and crafts are extremely important and defining elements of
any culture, which bring communities together and attract others to join in and understand more. The large number of Latin American restaurants and cafes at the Elephant, as well as local artisans and manufacturers of traditional products could come together at a Food
and Craft Market held regularly in the area. London’s street markets are very successful, as they cater both for locals and tourists, creating spaces for businesses and communities to thrive. Potential locations for a market in the Latin Quarter could be Elephant Road, Eagle’s Yard or the public space part of the Delancey Phase 1 development, on the corner of Elephant Road and New Kent Road.
Pop up temporary markets have recently become a popular way of utilising sites that are being developed, an example being the Bishopsgate Market which ran during the summer of 2014 next to a development site near Liverpool Street, or the Eat St market located to King’s Boulevard, adjacent to the redevelopment of King’s Cross.
This type of market often contributes to the gentrification of an area, as it caters to different categories of customers. However, the Latin American food market supplied by local businesses would increase the strength of local economy while continuing to provide traditional food to the community.
Street food festivals are a way of celebrating traditions and culture and creating memorable experiences. They can also be a creative fundraising tool, where profits from the event can go towards supporting other community projects.
Markets supplying fresh produce have a great contribution to the health and well being of communities. Specialised markets in London cater for different communities with their supply of traditional spices, oils, fruit and vegetables.
5. Community provision
Providing social infrastructure tailored specifically for the Latin American community is an essential step in recognising their needs, culture and long-standing presence at the Elephant and Castle.
A range of facilities and services should include a community centre, affordable premises for community and voluntary organisations, open and play space, as well as training, education and language support programmes.
A community centre would provide the premises for organising meetings, events, an information and support point, as well as office space for voluntary sector organisations. Using existing or forthcoming facilities such as the Shopping Centre or Crossway Church which will be redeveloped next to Eagle’s Yard would ensure the integration and collaboration with other communities.
Another option for hosting these services and activities would be the containers at Elephant Artworks, set up as an interim use on the Heygate redevelopment site.
Provision for young people is also needed in the Latin Quarter and it should include a football pitch in the Elephant Park which will be developed as part of the regeneration of the area, childcare facilities in close proximity to the businesses, as a large proportion of the traders are women, as well as training and education programmes.
Festivals and celebrations of Latin American culture should be supported by the council, developers and other partners, as an integral part of community life.
Read the full report here.
London’s Latin Quarter is here to stay!
The Latin Quarter: Elephant and Castle Community Vision, published by Latin Elephant is the first report to capture the perspective of the Latin American community of retailers at Elephant and Castle, London. Elephant and Castle (EC) is home to the largest Latin American business cluster in London with four core concentrations and more than 80 shops.
Elephant and Castle is undergoing an ambitious programme of urban redevelopment. The regeneration of EC presents challenges and opportunities for London’s Latin population but the improvements are welcomed within the LA community if their sustainability and future presence can be supported.
The LA community have demonstrated adaptability, flexibility and resilience over the last 20 years to make EC the vibrant place that it is today. With the appropriate measures in place the community will continue to thrive, grow and attract new visitors to the area.
The opportunity to create a truly vibrant Latin Quarter in London is unique. Latin Elephant is providing opportunities for Latin Americans to participate in the process of urban change in what is now a key design and planning stage at EC.
The report presents a series of projects and strategies that could be implemented together or separately in order to address the current needs of the community and look towards the future.
You can find a link to the report here: https://www.facebook.com/Latinelephant
It is also available in Latin Elephant’s web page: www.latinelephant.org by clicking this link: http://latinelephant.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Draft-report-Jan-2015.pdf
Our Latin Quarter Workshop on 19 November gathered Latin American retailers and organisations from Elephant and Castle with representatives from Southwark Council, Delancey and Lend Lease to discuss ideas about how Elephant and Castle can continue to be a Latin quarter after the regeneration process.
Using as starting point the fact that Elephant and Castle already is a Latin Quarter, the workshop explored ideas so that the Latin Quarter is not lost as a result of the regeneration process and transcend from the Latin American community to attract tourists and British customers.
The key issues discussed in the workshop were identity, public space, community, connectivity and access. The attendees explored ideas and projects like Latin American art, murals along the railway arches, as well as the celebration of food and Latin American products through a street market. Similar cases are Banglatown in Brick Lane; Maltby Street where the railway arches were refurbished; and Little Italy in New York.
The workshop engaged in a dialogue with retailers to listen to their needs and aspirations for the Latin American Quarter; highlighting the contribution of Latin businesses to Elephant and the need to make its presence more visible; given that the regeneration of the area represents challenges and opportunities for the Latin Quarter.
The ideas gathered during the workshop are the base for a future consultation with the wider community and for a feasibility study. The results of the feasibility study will be presented to Southwark Council who sponsored this project through the High Street Challenge grant, awarded to Latin Elephant.
Key results from a survey done by Latin Elephant during the last weeks to the retailers, concluded that Elephant and castle is home to 80 Latin American independent businesses in four zones: Elephant Road, the Shopping Centre, Eagle’s Yard and Draper’s House. Women play an active role in enterprise within the Latin community; some businesses are husband/wife joint ownership and 80% of respondents reported customers were mostly or entirely Latino.
Latin Elephant works for the integration and recognition of Latin Americans in regeneration initiatives in London; facilitating and encouraging links between enterprises and community initiatives; as well as highlighting migrant and ethnic enterprises contribution to London’s diverse economies and spaces.
Photo credit: All photos by Ingrid Guyon
Latin Elephant is member of Just Space Economy and Planning Group (JSEP). We would like to thank JSEP for the opportunity to answer the following question under the theme ‘retail and town centres’ in the enquiry in public (EiP) for FALP 2014:
“The FALP envisages a structural change in retail provision driven largely by changes in the way people shop (internet, multi-channel shopping etc) and leading to, amongst other things, the expansion or strengthening of some centres and the decline of others. Are the proposed alterations to Policies 2.15, 4.7 and 4.8 (and the supporting reasoned justification) sufficient to manage these changes particularly where centres are declining to ensure that they remain viable and vital?”
JSEP’s written response to this question is based on collaborative work amongst members of Just Space and on the day the response focused on Latin Elephant’s work. Latin Elephant’s argument about the disconnect between urban policy and small migrant ethnic economies was noted by the inspector: A great achievement for JSEP and Latin Elephant! Follow the link to read the full response: Latin Elephant’s response to EiP FALP 2014