Thursday, 2 December 2021

Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that regeneration schemes are hitting London’s culture


LONDON: The London Assembly has urged mayor Sadiq Khan to focus on protecting grassroots arts venues in the capital as part of a new report on regeneration in the city. In a series of recommendations on the role of culture in regeneration, Khan is advised “to identify venues that have local significance” and assess the likely impact of planning applications on these venues. The report also calls on the mayor to ensure that culture is supported in both inner and outer London. Khan’s proposals for a London Borough of Culture are also supported. The report recommends the prize is awarded every two years to “the borough that best promotes a sustainable vision of culture” by a panel of experts from London’s cultural and creative scene. Navin Shah, chair of the London Assembly Regeneration Committee, which published the report, said: “London is globally renowned as a city of culture. Culture has the power to regenerate places, but due to rising land values, running costs and reduced public funding, cultural venues and communities are increasingly threatened. “Regeneration must also protect and deliver culture. The mayor has a key role to play but we also need to make sure that local communities truly lie at the heart of all cultural regeneration projects.”Other key observations and recommendations in the report include:

  • A Creative Enterprise Zone should be launched, with affordable housing and workspaces in the city.
  • The mayor is advised to conduct research to better inform an understanding of “affordability” for the cultural sector.
  • The report identified tensions between old and new residents and communities, with people priced out of certain parts of London due to rising rents and “rocketing property costs”.
  • It also found certain groups are marginalised, leading to a homogenisation of the type of residents in an area and the culture on offer, and that industrial land and buildings are being lost to housing developments.
  • The importance of culture in outer London is highlighted in the report, which advises that “the mayor should propose a strategy that recognises the cultural offer of outer London” and that he “should make explicit the opportunities that suburban cultural facilities can offer London as a whole”.
  • Other recommendations to the mayor include that he should ensure that new policies in the London Plan, a special development strategy for the city, provide suitable workspace in the capital.

A spokesman for City Hall said: “We welcome the Assembly’s report highlighting the importance of culture in regeneration projects across London. “Culture and the creative industries are key priorities for the mayor and City Hall is ensuring that culture is fully embedded in the capital’s regeneration programmes. “The mayor recognises the unique contribution made by artists to the city and is committed to improving access to dedicated, affordable workspace so that the next generation of creatives are given the extra support they require to flourish and London can continue to be the cultural capital of the world. “We will review the Assembly’s recommendations as we finalise the details on the mayor’s cultural initiatives.”

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