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Asset Based Community Development
Coin Street: A Beacon of Social Housing and Enterprise in Central London

Coin Street: A Beacon of Social Housing and Enterprise in Central London

Nestled in the heart of London, where towering skyscrapers and luxurious developments symbolise wealth and affluence, Coin Street is a remarkable example of how social housing and enterprise can thrive amidst an environment primarily driven by wealth creation. Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB) has transformed this area into a vibrant, inclusive community, demonstrating that sustainable living and social equality are achievable goals even in the bustling centre of a global financial hub.

The Genesis of Coin Street

The story of Coin Street is a testament to the power of community action. In the early 1980s, a group of residents united to oppose the proposed commercial development of the South Bank area. Their vision was clear: creating a community prioritising affordable housing, green spaces, and community-oriented businesses over luxury developments. After years of tireless campaigning, the Coin Street Action Group succeeded in acquiring land from the Greater London Council in 1984, giving birth to CSCB, a social enterprise and development trust built by the people for the people.

Social Housing at its Core

At the core of Coin Street’s mission is providing social housing that genuinely benefits the community. CSCB has developed over 220 homes, all available for rent at affordable prices. This means that low and middle-income families can live in a central location without the burden of exorbitant rent, freeing up their income for other necessities. These homes are not just buildings; they’re designed with the community in mind, featuring shared spaces, gardens, and facilities that encourage interaction and a sense of belonging, fostering a stronger, more connected community.

The housing model at Coin Street is a testament to the power of community involvement. Residents actively participate in managing and maintaining their homes, fostering a strong community spirit and a sense of ownership. This unique approach ensures that the housing remains affordable and empowers residents to shape their living environment according to their needs, creating a truly inclusive and sustainable community.

A Hub for Social Enterprise

Coin Street is not just about housing; it’s also a thriving hub for social enterprise. The development includes a variety of community-focused businesses and organisations that provide services, create jobs, and reinvest profits back into the community. From cafés and restaurants to fitness centres and childcare facilities, these enterprises cater to the needs of the residents while promoting economic sustainability.

One notable example is the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre, a multifunctional space that hosts events, workshops, and activities for all age groups. It serves as a focal point for community engagement, offering everything from youth programs to support for the elderly. Additionally, the centre provides affordable office space for charities and social enterprises, further enhancing the area’s social fabric.

Green Spaces and Sustainability

Coin Street’s commitment to sustainability is particularly noteworthy in a city where green space is at a premium. The development includes several parks, gardens, and pedestrian-friendly areas that provide residents with much-needed respite from the urban jungle. The community gardens are not just relaxing spaces but also educational tools, teaching residents about urban agriculture and sustainability.

Environmental sustainability is a core principle of CSCB’s development strategy. The buildings are designed to be energy-efficient, incorporating renewable energy sources and sustainable materials. These efforts reduce the community’s carbon footprint and lower residents’ living costs, further contributing to housing affordability.

Challenges and Triumphs

Coin Street’s journey has not been without its challenges. The pressures of property development in central London and financial constraints have tested the community’s and its leaders’ resilience. However, the successes far outweigh the obstacles. Coin Street is a testament to what can be achieved when a community comes together with a common purpose and a clear vision.

The social housing and enterprise model pioneered by Coin Street has inspired similar initiatives across the UK and beyond. It demonstrates that creating inclusive, sustainable communities in even the most commercially driven environments is possible. Coin Street’s success is a powerful reminder that urban development does not have to come at the expense of social equity and community well-being.

Headline Social Impact and Value

The approach taken by Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB) has created significant social value and impact benefits that extend beyond the immediate community. Here are some of the key benefits:

Affordable Housing

Benefit: A primary benefit is the provision of affordable housing in central London, where property prices are typically prohibitive. By offering over 220 homes at affordable rents, CSCB ensures that low—and middle-income families can reside in a prime location without facing financial strain.

Impact: This alleviates housing stress for residents, contributing to a more stable and diverse community. It prevents the displacement of long-term residents and preserves the area’s socio-economic diversity.

Community Empowerment

Benefit: CSCB’s cooperative housing model empowers residents by involving them in the management and maintenance of their homes. This participatory approach fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Impact: Empowered residents are more likely to be engaged and active within their community, leading to stronger social ties and a more cohesive neighbourhood. This engagement also enhances residents’ skills and confidence.

Economic Stability

Benefit: The development includes a variety of social enterprises and community-focused businesses that provide jobs and services. These enterprises reinvest profits back into the community, creating a self-sustaining economic ecosystem.

Impact: This promotes local employment and supports the local economy, reducing unemployment and fostering economic resilience. It also ensures that the community benefits directly from the economic activities within their area.

Social Cohesion

Benefit: The presence of shared spaces, community centres, and regular events promotes interaction among residents. The Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre, particularly, serves as a hub for social activities and support services.

Impact: These interactions build social capital, reducing isolation and fostering a strong sense of community. Social cohesion is crucial for creating a supportive environment where individuals feel connected and valued.

Health and Wellbeing

Benefit: Residents’ access to green spaces, recreational facilities, and wellness programs supports their physical and mental health. CSCB’s commitment to sustainability also ensures a healthier living environment.

Impact: Improved health outcomes for residents lead to reduced healthcare costs and a higher quality of life. Active and healthy communities are more resilient and capable of facing challenges.

Educational Opportunities

Benefit: CSCB offers educational programs and facilities for all age groups, from early childhood education to adult learning. This includes workshops, training sessions, and youth programs.

Impact: Enhanced educational opportunities increase residents’ skills and employability, contributing to personal development and long-term economic stability. Educated communities are also better equipped to innovate and drive positive change.

Environmental Sustainability

Benefit: The development incorporates energy-efficient buildings, renewable energy sources, and sustainable materials. Green spaces and urban agriculture initiatives promote environmental awareness and stewardship.

Impact: Sustainable practices reduce the community’s carbon footprint and living costs, contributing to global environmental goals. They also educate residents about sustainable living, fostering a culture of environmental responsibility.

Resilience and Adaptability

Benefit: The community’s structure and governance models promote resilience by encouraging adaptability and responsiveness to residents’ needs and external challenges.

Impact: A resilient community can better withstand economic, social, and environmental shocks. Coin Street’s adaptability serves as a model for other urban developments facing similar challenges.

Inspirational Model

Benefit: Coin Street is a pioneering model for integrating social housing, enterprise, and community development in urban settings. It demonstrates the viability of prioritizing social value in urban development.

Impact: This model inspires other communities and policymakers to adopt similar approaches, potentially leading to broader systemic changes in how urban development is approached globally.

Conclusion

Coin Street is a shining example of how social housing and enterprise can coexist and flourish in the heart of a city known for its wealth and opulence. Through the dedication and vision of its residents and the innovative strategies of CSCB, Coin Street has created a vibrant, inclusive community that prioritises people over profit. It inspires urban planners, policymakers, and communities worldwide, proving that sustainable and equitable urban living is within reach with determination and a shared vision.

Replicating this approach in different contexts would require consideration of local conditions, resources, and needs, but here are some examples of communities across the UK that have successfully implemented elements of the Coin Street model and thus demonstrate its replicability:

  • Granby Four Streets, Liverpool: A community-led housing project that transformed derelict housing into affordable homes through cooperative ownership and social enterprise.
  • Brixton Green, London: A community land trust initiative to provide affordable housing and shared spaces in Brixton.
  • Lilac, Leeds: A co-housing community focused on sustainability, affordability, and resident participation.

Leveraging Local Assets

eCulture Solutions community intelligence services have been built to help communities to focus on leveraging the existing strengths and resources within a community to drive sustainable development. Instead of concentrating on what a community lacks, the ABCD approach identifies and mobilises the assets already present in the community—such as skills, knowledge, and local organisations. This service helps communities to recognise their potential, fosters local leadership, and encourages collaboration among residents, businesses, and institutions. By empowering communities to utilise their assets, we aim to make it easier for others to adopt and implement the Coin Street approach and gain self-reliance, resilience, and a stronger sense of community ownership and pride.

Links

Passionate About Our Neighbourhood | Coin Street

Granby 4 Streets Community Land TrustGranby 4 Streets Community Land Trust (granby4streetsclt.co.uk)

About Us | Brixton Green

LILAC – Low Impact Living Affordable Community

eCulture Solutions – Community Intelligence Service

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