Elephant Park in the Elephant & Castle area of London is a large residential development, across three sites.
The first units of the development opened in 2016 and the site continues to grow. Mainstay’s Estate Manager for the site, Ernest Harris, helped the residents to create a steering committee to organise community events.
Two of the challenges of building a community were the development’s size and that the ongoing construction work had created friction with its immediate neighbours, some of whom have lived in the area for 30-40 years. Ernest created the steering committee with input from volunteers from across the development, as well as close neighbours and the local community group Elephant Says Hi, which is dedicated to combating loneliness in the borough. ‘We started with six residents from Elephant Park and three residents from the wider community. It’s now grown to fourteen people. It’s great to see everyone so engaged’, said Ernest. The first meeting convened in July 2019 and the committee decided to organise a street party for everyone in the area, using Wansey Street, a one-way street that runs alongside the development.
First street party in the area for 30 years
While Ernest helped with the admin for the committee, he empowered the residents to make the majority of decisions themselves. While Mainstay found a sponsor for the event and put the committee in touch with local suppliers, the residents organised obtaining licences for the event and getting council permission to close the road. The street party was a great success — taking place in September 2019 with excellent feedback from residents and neighbours alike. Following their success, the steering committee has forged ahead and organised a Christmas carol singing for Christmas. They reached out to a local church, helping them build further relationships with community groups in the local area. As well as a local caterer to provide hot soup for everyone who attended. Of Mainstay’s involvement in creating and assisting the steering committee, Ernest said: “It’s really helped residents to feel part of the wider community. Our vision is that it will continue to work and grow stronger and that it helps [the residents] to form a solid community.”
Without community, a development is just another place to live.
Read more about our responsibility of building communities within our developments: https://www.mainstaygroup.co.uk/build-to-rent/building-communities/