This is the first post of a new Farm blog by Luisa Vallejo – one of the Farm Project’s Co-Founders – who is leading our new Community Mobilisation project for the next six months.
Clitterhouse Farm’s history goes back to medieval times but its rich history of aeronautical innovation, fight for freedom and women’s rights has been long forgotten.
Its buildings became derelict with the inevitable prospect of demolition.
Only a few people knew about its past. We certainly didn’t!
The Farm buildings, which are owned by Barnet Council, sit at the corner of Clitterhouse Playing Fields, Cricklewood, North West London, at the core of one of the largest regeneration projects in the UK – The Brent Cross Cricklewood (BXC) Regeneration.
“It was the humble, silent and abandoned Farm buildings that brought us together in early 2013.”
It was the humble, silent and abandoned Farm buildings that brought us together in early 2013. Paulette wanted to grow organic food and set up a cafe; Thomas had set up a Friends of Clitterhouse Playing Fields group; Alistair wanted to run artists’ studios and workshops and I wanted to work on a project on forgotten spaces. However, we all felt this was an extraordinary opportunity to bring a sense of belonging and local pride to where we live.
Since then, we have been campaigning as The Clitterhouse Farm Project (CFP) to secure the future of the historic and derelict Clitterhouse Farm buildings. First of all, to transform them into a much needed vibrant multi-use hub that supports the local community and small businesses. Secondly, we hope that its rich history will be taken into account in the regeneration that is to come.
The Farm supporters have already prevented the proposed demolition of the Farm buildings under the original 2010 Brent Cross Cricklewood (BXC) Regeneration plans.
“CFP has become a focus for positive change in the area.”
CFP has become a focus for positive change in the area. We have held 15 active consultation events for the community, with a focus on art, music, food, gardening, outdoor cinema, history and sport.
This summer we constructed a pop-up space at the farm for community engagement, support meetings and events. Two hugely successful open-air cinema nights were held. We also adopted a green space next to the Farm for a community garden. There, Hendon and District Archaeological Society (HADAS) undertook an archaeological dig which unearthed artefacts evidencing the Farm’s medieval past.
Most importantly, we are currently in the process of formally leasing part of the Farm buildings from Barnet Council in order to access the capital funds required to bring the Farm buildings back to life.
“What none of us ever imagined was how the Farm buildings would transform our own lives! What we started doing in our spare time, gradually became a full-time obsession!”
What none of us ever imagined was how the Farm buildings would transform our own lives! What we started doing in our spare time, gradually became a full-time obsession! In my case, in January this year I joined Locality’s Voluntary Community Training Program, in order to have a better understanding of what I was already doing with the Farm and other local groups. This put me on a path that I never imagined myself to be on… applying, under the umbrella of the CFP, to the Community Organisers Mobilization (COM) Fund!
We thought CFP would benefit greatly from more in-depth understanding of the Communities Right to Bid, Right to Build and Right to Reclaim Land and, in the context of BXC regeneration, it would be important to know more about Neighbourhood Planning.
Being awarded this grant was great news! This funding will help us to actively engage residents around Clitterhouse Playing Fields: Prayle Grove, Whitefield Estate, Clitterhouse Estate, Brent Terrace, Golders Green Estate, Hendon Way Allotments and beyond.
“By strengthening the networks around Clitterhouse Farm through listening and exploring Community Rights and Neighbourhood Planning, we hope to underpin the Farm’s case for an asset transfer…”
By strengthening the networks around Clitterhouse Farm through listening and exploring together Community Rights and Neighbourhood Planning, we hope to underpin the Farm’s case for an asset transfer from Barnet Council and empower local groups to imagine the future of our area.
Yesterday we held our first COM funded meeting to celebrate this year’s achievements and talk about our future plans.
More than thirty people joined us. There was a wide range of ages, several have lived in the area for many years, some had recently moved here whilst others came from further afield. People came from Brent Terrace, Whitefield Estate, Golders Green Estate, Westcroft Estate, and as far as Friern Barnet, Neasden, Harlesden, Mapesbury and Hayes, Middlesex!
They brought delicious food for all to share. We had all sorts of nibbles, vegetarian soup, warm mulled apple juice, chocolates and sweets!
Many came to meet new people with positive ideas, with an interest in history, to learn more about the Farm Project and our activities. There were many interesting conversations about who we are, how do we define our neighbourhood and what binds communities together [if you could not join us this time, we hope to see you in The New Year!]
This grant will also allow us to host a series of fortnightly events like this, where we aim to create spaces for in depth exploration and reflection on Community Rights and Neighbourhood Planning.
We look forward to the start of 2016, when we will be joined by a great team of community organisers to listen to residents in the Whitefield Estate, who are going to be relocated in the first phase of the BXC regeneration.
Season Greetings to all!
Luisa and the Farm Team