Monday, 13 June 2016

Loughborough Junction Masterplan nears final version

What feels like a very long co-production exercise is going into its final lap as we get near to a Loughborough Junction Masterplan. It has been an exercise where residents have been asked to make choices based on what is feasible as well as what is desirable, and this has been done in a sensible and serious way. Principally this means acceptance of the need to build housing, to finance other elements - and because we need lots more housing! So we have found residents will embrace the need for financial sustainability. Contributors have also agreed on the need to create employment opportunities, which will obviously contribute to residents' financial sustainability.

There's a lot covered in this plan but some key components to my mind are the proposed redevelopment of Gordon Grove, the exciting plans for the Loughborough Farm site, and the opportunities to create permeability through the railways. 

In Gordon Grove we are proposing to build homes near to a new and improved Marcus Lipton Youth Centre. This is difficult because of possible conflicts over noise etc, but most of those involved thought there is room for housing, and appreciated the need to do this to fund the youth centre. And we agreed that the Youth Centre should if possible be a separate building, instead of combined with other uses as in some early options. 
The land next to Styles Gardens, part of Loughborough Estate, is currently used informally by Loughborough Farm, "a patchwork of cooperative growing spaces". It is a Key Industrial and Business Area (KIBA) so has to have employment uses on it. The Council, with support of local organisations including Loughborough Estate Management Board, has successfully won £1.64 m from the GLA to build a business park including the same amount of growing space. The Masterplan incorporates this so this may be one of the first parts of the Masterplan to be turned into reality. So we will hopefully deliver approximately 125 jobs, a permanent home for the food-growing project, which can hopefully strengthen links with the Estate; a business support and training programme from Tree Shepherd and Green Man Skills Zone; support for residents of the estate to develop business ideas; an improved frontage on Loughborough Road.

We all know that the railway lines, of which LJ seems to have more than its fair share, (and famously 7 bridges), are physical barriers to movement, so opening up more walking routes is key. For example it may be possible to make a short cut from Styles Gardens through the new industrial estate and Rathgar Road to LJ Station, and also to create new routes linking Hinton Rd, Coldharbour Lane and Herne Hill Rd, which will also help to bring vacant railway arches into productive use. 
All in all the Masterplan will guide future developments towards a financially sustainable balance of uses, improved community facilities, better access and an improved environment. Many thanks to everyone who's contributed so far. The final round of consultation will be announced shortly.

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