Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Regenerating London’s Neighbourhoods

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 12th August, 2011

It has long been said that London is a city of many villages, but in recent years the ‘village feel’ about many areas has disappeared. This is partly because of insensitive redevelopment, but a more serious cause is the change in people’s lifestyles. Many Londoners today simply don’t know their neighbours, don’t patronize their local shops (apart from quick dashes to the nearest convenience store when the milk runs out) and they plan their social life city-wide. That’s all very well up to a point, but only up to a point. Neighbourhoods should be communities, diverse yet united and concerned with maintaining or improving the local quality of life. Of course, this concept was at the heart of ‘Community Politics’, launched by the old Liberal Party back in the 1970s. But it needs to be dusted down and re-invigorated, especially in our capital city. Paradoxically, the violence, destruction and looting of the past week has indirectly given a healthy impetus to the process of regeneration. People have come out of their little cocoons or dormitory-apartments and declared a stake in their neighbourhood. Political parties, faith groups and community organisations should seize the moment and regenerate the character and spirit of their neighbourhoods before people slip back into their isolation and their inertia.

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