Water City

Challenge: There is a seven-mile network of rivers, canals and docks in East  London’s Lower Lea Valley. This Water City comprises parts of Newham, Hackney,  Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich. From the air the vast tracts of water  and water side spaces that make up Water City are visible, but this vista – and with it  the opportunities it offers has largely become hidden since the economic and  physical decline of the docks.

The 2012 London Olympics has raised Water City’s profile worldwide but despite  massive investment recently, evidence of “trickle down” is limited. In Tower Hamlets  for example, communities literally overshadowed by Canary Wharf remain some of  the most disadvantaged in the UK. Life expectancy is 10 years less in Stratford than it  is only ten stations away along the Jubilee Line in Westminster. And those that work  there don’t live there. Only 20% of the jobs are held by residents.

Solutions:  AMP has helped form Water City CIC which believes in steering East  London away from dependency and altruism.  We encourage and develop a more  active, designed and planned approach towards regeneration. East London is – and  always has been – a focus of industry, innovation, scientific discovery and  entrepreneurial enterprise. Water City CIC is connecting a group of commercial  partners to build on this focus.

Results so far:

  • Water City CIC is working with investors to find high quality, highest common denominator opportunities – in plain English, opportunities that work for the many not just the few. Examples of proposed initiatives include a programme of performance and exhibitions showcasing up and coming, but not currently recognised creative talent in the arts and in the technology sectors. There are opportunities to support local groups with high quality ideas to bring unused buildings back into use in a creative, high quality and imaginative manner. Projects that will be of interest to many involve backing local entrepreneurs to bring imaginative new products and services to market. See: www.water-city.com
  • Water City Festival has created a festival of on-going, high quality ‘pop-up’ events  across East London as one piece of the long term legacy of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The Festival promotes Water City and allows residents, school pupils and those who live and work in East London to experience making music and creating art. The focus of the Festival is on practical activity and is driven by the theme “learning by doing”. Professional musicians and artists, music college students and school pupils learn to perform and work together. Many professional musicians are now moving into East London but are not connected to their communities. The Festival, through its activity, builds new relationships and changes this. See: www.watercityfestival.org.uk