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The Case For London’s Latin Quarter: Retention, Growth, Sustainability

15 June 2016

3 mins

The outcomes of a report by Senior Lecturer Patria Roman-Velazquez and Nicola Hill making the case for helping Elephant and Castle’s Latin American businesses to survive and thrive under the latest programme for renewal recently received coverage in The Guardian.

Retaining cultural diversity in regeneration strategies is a key challenge for many cities. Co-author Roman-Velazquez, a Sociology and Communication specialist concerned with migrant communities and urban policy, said: “A good outcome for us would be that the Latin Quarter idea gets acknowledged and that there is a high proportion of retention of Latin American businesses so that they can grow with the development.”

The report published by Elephant and Castle sets 3 priority areas: policy frameworks; business development and skills, and; people and place. 10 recommendations were given for engaging with and increasing participation of migrant and ethnic retailers under the intense process of urban regeneration:

  1. Improve channels through which London’s growing migrant and ethnic populations can contribute to the planning process and access applicable funding streams.
  2. Identify and acknowledge the specific contribution of MEBs within opportunity areas and for this to be reflected in local planning strategy documents.
  3. Develop overarching retail strategies for development areas which draw upon the needs of existing communities and local economies and are inclusive to both small and micro businesses and MEB clusters.
  4. Set guidelines to guarantee and monitor the quantity and quality of affordable business commercial units (rent space) for small and micro businesses in new and refurbished developments.
  5. Create conditions which will enable existing business clusters to better manage urban change at every stage of the development process. This should include support strategies for transition phases whether this is relocation, compensation or a prioritised return for existing businesses.
  6. Support the retention, sustainability and growth of existing businesses through a comprehensive business readiness programme to include: language support, business development assistance, financial planning, employment law advice, other training and to open access to financing options for MEBs.
  7. Support local job and skills creation by sourcing local talent and skills to design and build locally and improve access to training, education and employment, especially for migrant entrepreneurs.
  8. Invest in infrastructure that reflects community needs and supports the needs of micro business, for example flexible business units where complimentary activities can take place or public realm improvements to maximise footfall.
  9. Involve the local population in a community vision for opportunity areas at the earliest stage in the development process.
  10. Implement comprehensive monitoring mechanisms which fully capture the varied contribution of MEBs in London.

The study concludes that to realise the full potential of the business cluster, investment in the area needs to be accompanied by active involvement of the existing group of retailers at all stages of the decision making process. Only this will ensure that the vision remains community driven and that the Latin Quarter will continue to cultivate small independent migrant entrepreneurship for Latin Americans in London.

Click here to read the full report.

Photo Credit: Ingrid Guyon

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