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What Might ‘Sustainability’ Mean?



Disclaimer-This is the independent Spotlight view. It does not necessarily represent the views of Origin management.

Welcome to the latest blog from Origin Housing’s Spotlight Panel. We are residents from Origin properties in various parts of London and Hertfordshire. And we work to find improvements and solutions that will benefit residents and strengthen Origin Housing’s culture and values.

One benefit of being on the Spotlight Panel is that we sometimes get to hear about new initiatives when they are at an early stage. And today’s blog brings you news about one such development.
This development is based in Somers Town, the part of Camden that’s located between Euston and Kings Cross stations. It also happens to be the part of London where Origin Housing originated, where it still has many residents, and where its headquarters is still based, on Eversholt Street.
Here’s the name of the project we heard about:
“Somers Town Future Neighbourhoods 2030”
And here’s the challenge:
“Somers Town has received funding from the Mayor of London to become a more sustainable neighbourhood.
The goal is to help all of us – residents, local businesses and organisations -- to better understand the local impacts of climate change on our community and to work together on activities that are good for the environment, save money and improve our quality of life.”
So - here is what Somers Town Future Neighbourhoods 2030 (STFN) sees as sustainable neighbourhoods:

  • Improved energy efficiency of council properties
  • Improved local green spaces
  • Installed solar panels on suitable local buildings
  • Reduced local air pollution and help to residents to reduce their exposure to pollution
  • Improved physical space around the neighbourhood to make walking and cycling safer, easier and more accessible
  • Local ‘green’ jobs and opportunities to participate in ‘circular economy’ activities
  • A plan that brings all the above together for the benefit of Future Somers Town residents.

You might want to add to this list, now that you see it. For example, if you’re planning for the future you might want to explicitly engage young people today. And what about activities that aim to help residents deal with the current ‘cost of living’ crisis? But it looks pretty good. for starters. The project itself has only been live for about six months.
Not everyone lives in Somers Town, or works for Origin Housing.  And not everything can happen at once. What looks encouraging is that STFN has started with some local action that’s open to everybody who lives or works in Somers Town, and even beyond. For example:
“Learn about air quality in your home: borrow a free indoor air quality monitor and personal air pollution sensor so you can learn more about the air you breathe wherever you are.  Contact: Natalie.Curd@camden.gov.uk
“Green transport hubs: The project wants to introduce five or six places in the Somers Town area where people can have access to cycle parking, electric bikes, electric car clubs and other shared mobility services in one location. What are your views on the proposed locations for these hubs, and what should be available at each? Contact: somerstownfn2030.commonplace.is.
“Gardening and greening your estate: Make and build things with Central Saint Martins for free to green your estate, including planters and flower boxes, bird feeders, bird boxes and more. Contact Tyler: t.inberg@csm.arts.ac.uk
“Reusing, upcycling and selling at Chalton Street Market:

  • Join the online community for help with moving unwanted items. Sign up at tiptapp.com/en.
  • How about running your own eco-stall selling quality home items that you no longer need? Visit Our Little Markets at Troy’s new café ‘Our Little Café’ inside the Somers Town Community Association building – and trade at Chalton Street Market.

Visit the Chalton Street Market Refill Station Camden (on Fridays). Bring an empty jar or bottle with a lid and fill up on household products for less.
One message from the Somers Town Future Neighbourhoods 2030 initiative is how important it is to work together, if what we want is positive change in our communities. And how important it is to start by building from what’s already in place, even before the detailed planning has been completed.
But sometimes what seems like a small step turns out to be more complex than expected. As one of its early projects, the STFN expected to improve insulation in up to 50 council homes. Initial interest from residents was high, but the actual complexities and disruption to everyday life proved too much for most, once they found out what was expected. Fortunately, the STFN project managers have quickly learned and adapted.
Have another look at what Somers Town Future Neighbourhoods 2030 is up to already. Perhaps there’s something that could benefit you?