Catford Centre - "Winning the Award for Community Engagement in the Planning Process was a huge moment for our project."
Winning the Award for Community Engagement in the Planning Process was a huge moment for our project.
Team Catford was born five years ago in response to the planned regeneration for Catford town centre. Lewisham Council has an ambitious vision for Catford to become the greenest town centre in London. Engaging local people was our starting point to gather views and ideas to help shape the Council’s Framework Plan, a blueprint to guide change in the town centre into the 2030s.
We knew we needed to create a sense of pride in the area and build enthusiasm ahead of decades of urban transformation. Starting in 2017, we launched a comprehensive community programme which gathered over 3,000 comments. This helped us to prioritise themes for the architects to develop a Framework Plan that genuinely responds to local views.
We met thousands of people as we joined community events and found great satisfaction in ensuring that every single view was captured and recorded. As a local team, we wanted our engagement approach to resonate with the diverse community in Catford. To reach more young people we founded Young and Vocal – a DJ night for young creatives and Catford Chronicle – an online magazine exploring the difference between regeneration and gentrification through video and portraits.
We discovered just how important it is to truly consider your audience, pivoting to find the most effective routes to reach and engage people, and to keep asking ourselves — could we do more? We believe it was this curiosity and inquisitivity that helped us become an award-winning community engagement team. When we talk to local authorities about the Team Catford approach, we always put our success down to never being quite satisfied and continuing to find innovative ways to bring everyone into the conversation — especially those who have never engaged before.
As a communications team, we’re blessed with rich stories of generations that root families to the town as well as a seemingly endless stream of creative entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. Content for our newsletters, digital magazine and social media reflects Catford’s fiercely proud community spirit and local people love what Team Catford has started and helped us celebrate winning the award.
Time and again we were told by local people that any change for Catford must benefit its people. An award that recognises community engagement reflects not just our achievements, but shows that this is a passionate community that genuinely cares about what happens next. It’s a clear signal for prospective developers, house builders — all those that will help shape the regeneration — that community comes first in Catford.