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