in Shaftesbury, Wandsworth

Battersea’s neighbourhoods – a renaissance?

At last week’s Northcote Road Carnival I was having a chat with Essential Local magazine about the event. One of the things they asked for was a quote about the day. And it was virtually impossible to give, because pretty much anything you could say was put on the bottom of a list of other (far more important) people saying much the same thing: fantastic day, congratulations to organisers, excellent atmosphere, etc.

So I tried to take a broader view and pointed to how it illustrated the unique offer and character of Northcote Road, which in turn illustrates the unique offers and characters of Battersea.

If you consider Clapham Junction as a hub, whatever direction you walk you are in Battersea, but each is a very different bit of Battersea. To the north, you go up Falcon Road, Battersea High Street and Battersea Square. To the east, my own favourite bit (obviously) Lavender Hill. To the south is St John’s Road and Northcote Road. And finally to the west St John’s Hill. While each share similarities, accidents of history, architecture and even traffic management means each has it’s own character and style. They attract different types of resident, different types of shop and different types of shopper – even though they are just minutes walk from each other.

While I’ve found it fascinating watching each of these evolve over the 12 years I’ve lived in the area, what has been most exciting is the past few when, it seems, there’s been a much stronger sense of community developing – and the resurgence in street-party style events has been one of the most visible aspects of this.

Last year saw just Lavender Hill hosting an event. This year they were joined by Northcote Road and St John’s Hill are planning an event in September. This isn’t limited to Battersea, only slightly further afield Old York Road will be having their third street party later this year and Southfields are looking at their first event this year.

I’m not quite sure what has prompted these events. Clearly there will be an element of seeing the success of one event and wishing to emulate it – but that is slightly simplistic, since a huge amount of work is required to organise one of these days, along with a significant investment in time and money.

But whatever the reason I’m glad that it is happening. One of the real shames of London (and I know I’m as guilty of this as anyone) is that we’ve lost our neighbourhoods – and anything that helps restore that community spirit can only be a good thing.

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