As a community benefit society, we don’t just believe in building homes, we believe in building community. We feel that every neighbourhood should be a safe and social place where local people can learn new skills, enjoy culture and nurture supportive relationships.
We’re aiming to create shared spaces in all of our projects, big or small. As part of our proposals for the Low Hall site, we’re currently in the early stages of planning a Community Hub, which could include community gardens and public spaces where new FCLT residents can socialise with each other and existing local residents.
To shape the Community Hub and other shared spaces, we will combine our members’ deep local knowledge with active and creative community consultation. We want to involve all local residents – both FCLT members and non-members – in defining these spaces. Our process will involve listening to local people about what kind of services everybody wants and needs, and generating ideas together. This will mean our proposals respond directly to specific challenges while also celebrating what is special about Waltham Forest. We want to ensure everyone feels empowered to make decisions about what is built in their local neighbourhood. Continuing Social Impact Assessments will allow us greater depth and breadth in understanding the social opportunities and challenges in Waltham Forest, to which the hub will need to respond.
Depending on the scale of the site, we want to provide facilities for local young people, businesses, community groups and cultural activities. We envision the hub as a community-run business that acts as a platform for local organisations and individuals by hiring out spaces, hosting activities and providing units to rent for small businesses, start-ups and makers. A community cafe could complement local parks and provide a space for daily, accessible socialising and meeting new people. It could also generate income, alongside business lets, hot-desking spaces for local freelancers, space hire at market rate for commercial organisations and a small number of short-stay guest rooms.
The hub will be resourceful and work with nature rather than against it, demonstrating our sustainability objectives. It will also pay its way and become a thriving business, ensuring it’s economically sustainable in the long term.