SfH’s Living ESG series attempts to tell the stories behind the data. We want to share example of what ESG reporting means in practice and how it impacts everyday life.
John Lewis, Executive Director Thamesmead and Group Lead for Placemaking at Peabody, talks through how the group is building more than just homes in East London:
Peabody’s work in Thamesmead exemplifies our placemaking approach. Our ESG report 2021/22 sets out the breadth of activity to rejuvenate the town and create new opportunities for local people.
Located in South-East London, Thamesmead has the same land area as central London but a population of 45,000. Since becoming involved in the area in 2014, we have developed plans to deliver new homes; thousands of jobs; leisure, cultural and commercial facilities; much improved green and blue spaces; and better connections with central London.
A community-powered place
We have encouraged residents to lead their own nature-based, community or cultural projects to benefit local people, through two funding streams. Successful applicants in 2021/22 benefited from grants of between £200 and £2,000, awarded by a panel including residents. We provided more than £57,000 in funding for 29 grassroots cultural or community projects through the Thamesmead Community Fund. We also awarded grants of almost £37,000 for 19 environmental projects through the Making Space for Nature fund. Over 600 people participated in resident-led activities.
Making culture part of everyday life
Thamesmead’s reputation as a new creative quarter of London continues to grow, thanks to our ongoing investment in local artists and groups, events, community projects and cultural buildings. Our annual Thamesmead Festival – planned and programmed by residents – saw local people perform to 6,500 people in 2021. Many of them feature in the latest Thamesmead Culture Guide and Directory.
We continue to develop Thamesmead’s cultural facilities and cultural economy. Local arts organisation, TACO! moved into a new gallery and event space in Cygnet Square, which will also have a café, bookshop and broadcast studio for the local radio station, RTM.FM. Close by, the Lakeside Centre now offers 35 affordable artists’ studios, a community darkroom and community garden managed by Bow Arts, and an early years nursery, café and enterprise kitchen managed by the YMCA.
Developing green infrastructure in Thamesmead
Our green infrastructure framework, Living in the Landscape, sets out our approach to managing and using Thamesmead’s green and blue spaces. It includes our Biodiversity Action Plan to create new habitats and help wildlife, flora and fauna flourish. We have changed our management practices to do this, such as converting mown areas into meadows and including swift bricks in new developments. Our GIS system enables us to measure the quality of changing habitats and understand the impact on species.
Boosting health and wellbeing
We supported more than 660 customers to take part in health-related activities such as our cycle hub in 2021/22, with an additional 72 customers volunteering or leading projects. We also continued to support local people struggling with their mental health. Our Positive Steps Thamesmead Programme, supported by VINCI Facilities, referred over 320 people to partner organisations providing advice on immigration, debt, housing, domestic violence, and emergency support. Evaluation of this programme shows it has a significant preventative and long-term positive impact.
We’re offering young people new opportunities to increase their confidence and resilience while boosting their access to skills and training. We continued our successful partnership with YouthBuild Ventures UK, which ensures that local construction training meets employers’ needs.
Working with charity Career Ready, we helped over 2,700 Thamesmead students to learn about a range of career options. We also provided skills development advice and support to residents focusing on growth sectors and emerging careers, from coding to cyber security.
We’ve helped enterprising residents by providing seed funding, business development support, opportunities to trade and, where possible, our own spaces to support and promote local entrepreneurship. In 2021/22 we provided access to business enterprise development, support and resources to over 120 people; helped 32 businesses trade at the Thamesmead Festival; and created opportunities for a further 22 businesses. Four Peabody-supported businesses were nominated for the prestigious Greenwich Business Awards, with two winning awards.
Placemaking at scale
All this work complements the physical regeneration in Thamesmead where we are investing in new and existing homes. Alongside a new community library, the first 534 homes close to the Elizabeth line at Abbey Wood are complete, with many residents moving across from the nearby Lesnes estate. Thanks to ongoing community involvement and strong partnerships, our whole place approach and long-term stewardship of the town is thriving.