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London Calling: Footwork field trip


Friday the 17th May marked the most important day in the Footwork 2024 calendar to date - the People and Place London Field Trip! 


This time last week Footwork’s People and Place peers convened en masse in London for a day of community-led sightseeing; with innovators travelling in from the far corners of England, from Bath and Exeter to York. 


The People and Place programme periodically hosts Field Trips to visit inspiring community-led place shaping projects across the country, as part of the Learn from Others stream. The aim of these trips being to create a supportive network of peers and to experience pioneering community-led placemaking in action. 


Graced with a beautiful May morning, the first stop was of course…coffee!


Image courtesy of Footwork


The day was centred around Coin Street, on London’s Southbank. Coin Street is a groundbreaking community-led scheme spearheaded by Coin Street Community builders, whose estate now boasts 11 sites, including 5 housing co-operatives, retail, hospitality, public realm and civic and leisure space. The ambitious nature of Coin Street is made even more remarkable when you consider exactly where this development is situated. 


Image courtesy of Coin Street


Coin Street - past, present and future


We kicked off the day at the Coin Street Neighborhood Centre and heard from Iain Tuckett, the mastermind behind the campaign. 


Iain led us through in stunning detail the history of the site, from the 1970’s when the Southbank was made up of vast swathes of derelict brownfield industrial land, through to Coin Street in 2024 and looking forward to the next phases of the project. Ever expanding, ever innovating. 


The Coin Street team employed some interesting campaign tactics in their early days by playing into notions of rioting and making the project intrinsically political from the get-go. 


Some interesting metrics were used to measure how footfall was increasing following the development of the London Eye and the Tate Modern - litter picking increased by a third…so…more litter, more people!


Iain imparted such a wealth of knowledge to the People and Place group, key takeaways being the need to prioritise the development of a business plan when undertaking any community-led project, but with an appreciation that these projects are often on the cusp of viability. 


Finally, Iain concluded the discussion by pressing on the group the importance of storytelling, especially when it comes to community-led projects. 


On to lunch!


Image courtesy of Footwork


Walking and Talking


Following a delicious lunch hosted at The Green Room, another feather in the bow of Coin Street Community Builders, the group headed out for a tour of the estate. 


The tour brilliantly brought to life the morning’s conversations, with children playing football on the sports pitches that were developed following an obvious need for sports facilities, demonstrated in the outcomes of a residents survey. 


We roamed through Bernie Spain Gardens to take in the blooming flowers, as managed and maintained by Coin Street Community Builders and their army of dedicated volunteers. 


Concluding at the OXO Tower (yes the stock cubes!), surely the jewel in the Coin Street crown, a thriving mixed use development made up of retail, maker spaces, 78 co-operative flats, a restaurant and a public viewing platform.


Image courtesy of Footwork


Unwinding at the Footwork Factory


The day’s final hurrah came in the form of a meet-up at the Footwork Factory in Farringdon with the Civic Power Fund and their grantees


The Civic Power Fund is a fund for grassroots community organising projects that are rooted in place. The Fund seeks to unleash the power of people to improve their lives and achieve lasting change, their grantees range from CLT’s to campaign groups to community kitchens. 


The event was loosely themed around housing and land justice and the scaling of campaigns from local to national. We heard provocations from E16 CLT, Coalville CAN, YorSpace and Brighton and Hove CLT with Martyn Holmes of Brighton and Hove CLT setting the question for the room ‘how can we work together to change the bigger picture?’. 


The conversations and explorations that followed were engaging and insightful - allowing time for the People and Place peers and the Civic Power Fund grantees to share their work with each other. Harking back to the intention for the day to ‘Learn from Others’. 


Energised, encouraged, delighted, hopeful, awed, galvanised 


- these were some of the words shared by the People and Place peers and the Civic Power Fund grantees in the space held during the concluding moment for reflections. 


Many attendees noted the energy in the room and were excited by the coming together of community innovators from across the country to share stories, challenges and dreams. Commiserating in the frustrations of activism, but comforted by the knowledge that they are not alone. 


Image courtesy of Footwork

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