In Merton Council’s consulation document released on Monday to coincide with the beginning of their regeneration consultation, they have 3 main options, the first being the wholesale destruction of the Ravensbury Village.
This goes beyond even what Circle has proposed in their terribly pathetic attempts at consultation.
The Merton Council document spins the regeneration as an opportunity not to be missed, despite practically the entire community of the Ravensbury Village being in opposition to the razing to the ground of their homes and general way of life since its creation post World War Two.
The current Ravensbury Village is a fantastic example of what development should bring to an area: a measured response to the overall character of its environment providing healthy living for everyone through design.
Ravensbury Village doesn’t have these horrifying thoroughfares that Merton and Circle like to copy and paste across their documents. It doesn’t have the exorbitant levels of crime that proponents for regeneration like to tout as reasons for the demolition of entire communities either.
What Ravensbury Village does have is large areas of land in a beautiful setting, that makes for healthy living conditions and private outdoor space for working class people. On the whole though, these people do not own their own homes and so have little protection against the regeneration mantra that the council and housing association are now touting in order to increase housing density and sell off land to private owners. The beautiful setting therefore seems an ideal environment in which Circle can sell off private homes at a premium!
What makes the whole process beyond comprehension is how everyone knows what the powers that be are up to, but how authorities such as Merton Council as well as Circle Housing, and professional bodies such as HTA architects, decide to duck and weave their way to ensure that the project runs forward without hindrance. They know that if they don’t, they either won’t get the monies due to them or the apparently good PR at a later date. They simply appear to be in this “conversation” for themselves and not for the community at large.
Regeneration should be about putting the community first and foremost, allowing the community to oversee the proposals and direct the design as it goes forward. Instead, both Merton and Circle Housing have been leading the way in subjugating the residents positions as the true stakeholders, spending more time on hot air and circus tents than in the proper sense of a true consultation process. They have actively prevented them from seeing draft layouts (surely to ensure the plans run to schedule) and propose to rush them through the final design process.
The reason why this regeneration shouldn’t go ahead is not because people don’t need homes but because in its current guise, housing associations such a Circle alongside councils such as Merton, are happy to run the views of residents into the ground, happy to trounce an entire community that is happy with its environment, and happy to sell off valuable land to further their own ambitions. Healthy areas such as the Ravensbury Village are being touted for destruction whilst massive tracts of brownfield land such as the Sita site in Mitcham that blight their surrounding communities, seem to be set in stone to remain as industrial wastelands, intent on ruining the lives of the surrounding community.
This regeneration isn’t about community, it’s about an agenda that is being set by Merton and furthered by Circle Housing. This is about the ambitions of a massive housing association and a local council versus the lives and the community of Ravensbury Village.
Put the community first!
Ravensbury Grove Blog