Posted on June 6, 2016
Comments Off on The case for London’s Latin Quarter: Retention, Growth, Sustainability
The Case for London’s Latin Quarter: Retention, Growth, Sustainability is the output of 18 months of research with the local community and other key stakeholders at Elephant and Castle, which is the current focus of one of Europe’s largest regeneration projects. The result is a strategic community vision that maps the journey of the Latin Quarter and identifies its contribution to the revitalisation of Elephant and Castle (EC) both now and into the future.
That the current Latin American business cluster at Elephant and Castle is formally recognised as a Latin Quarter, and its contribution to the local economy and community cohesion be acknowledged.
Retaining cultural diversity in regeneration strategies is a key urban challenge for many cities nowadays. In answer to this the report proposes 5 development opportunities for adoption in the case of the Latin Quarter at EC.
The reprot then draws upon these findings to identify priority areas and make recommendations for engaging, accounting for and incorporating migrant and ethnic businesses (MEBs) and local communities throughout wide-scale programmes of regeneration.
Three priority areas:
- Policy frameworks,
- Business development and skills
- People and place
10 recommendations to key decision makers to adopt which will reduce the risks to migrant businesses in the context of regeneration:
- Improve channels through which London’s growing migrant and ethnic populations can contribute to the planning process and access applicable funding streams.
- Identify and acknowledge the specific contribution of MEBs within opportunity areas and for this to be reflected in local planning strategy documents.
- Develop overarching retail strategies for development areas which draw upon the needs of existing communities and local economies and are inclusive to both small and micro businesses and MEB clusters.
- Set guidelines to guarantee and monitor the quantity and quality of affordable business commercial units (rent space) for small and micro businesses in new and refurbished developments.
- Create conditions which will enable existing business clusters to better manage urban change at every stage of the development process. This should include support strategies for transition phases whether this is relocation, compensation or a prioritised return for existing businesses.
- Support the retention, sustainability and growth of existing businesses through a comprehensive business readiness programme to include: language support, business development assistance, financial planning, employment law advice, other training and to open access to financing options for MEBs.
- Support local job and skills creation by sourcing local talent and skills to design and build locally and improve access to training, education and employment, especially for migrant entrepreneurs.
- Invest in infrastructure that reflects community needs and supports the needs of micro business, for example flexible business units where complimentary activities can take place or public realm improvements to maximise footfall.
- Involve the local population in a community vision for opportunity areas at the earliest stage in the development process.
- Implement comprehensive monitoring mechanisms which fully capture the varied contribution of MEBs in London.
Investment and a compromise by different stakeholders will be necessary to achieve the mutual benefit from the attraction that a Latin Quarter will bring to EC and this document opens the channels for discussion. The study concludes that to realise the full potential of the business cluster, investment in the area needs to be accompanied by active involvement of the existing group of retailers at all stages of the decision making process. Only this will ensure that the vision remains community driven and that the Latin Quarter will continue to cultivate small independent migrant entrepreneurship for Latin Americans in London.