Boris Johnson just donated city hall funds to 20 London crowdfunding projects

A map of the planned Peckham Coal Line. Image: Peckham Coal Line.

Boris Johnson, love him or hate him, is spending the last year of his mayoralty doling out funds to local, grassroots infrastructure projects in London. This week, he signed over £285,000 of his £9m High Street Fund, created in March, to projects which will "re-energise the capital's high streets". 

So far, so predictable. But there's a twist: the mayor's office is donating to these projects through Spacehive, a civic crowdfunding website through which campaigners can raise money from the public to fund their community schemes. Hopeful London crowdfunders can submit their schemes to the mayor's page, where he promises to "pledge up to £20,000 directly to the best projects, like other crowdfunders". 

This all means that the mayor's endorsement doesn't constitute a go-ahead – but it does mean the projects are that much more likely to reach their funding targets.

Here are a few of the most interesting ones: 

The Peckham Coal Line – £10,000

We've written about Peckham's take on the New York High Line before, and it seems to be a favourite in the mayor's office: yesterday, Johnson sent the Chairman of the Mayor's Advisory Group, Daniel Moylan, to tour the Coal Line and announce the other groups who would receive funding.

If it goes ahead, the 900m-long grassy route will stretch along disused coal sidings through Peckham, and will provide a link between Queens Road and Rye Lane for pedestrians and cyclists. In a statement, Johnson called it a "fantastic example of how we can harness the enthusiasm of civic crowdfunding and work more directly with Londoners to improve their neighbourhoods".

Good Food Catford, Lewisham – £14,000

The Good Food Catford group want to renovate an empty high street shop and sell vegetables grown in community gardens and allotments there. 

Literalley, Tower Hamlets – £15,000

This group hopes to transform a disused alleyway off Whitechapel High Street into a free public library, featuring a long bookshelf, seating and planters. 

Wanstead Playground, Redbridge – £11,000

Parents in the area plan to renovate a dilapidated playground off Wanstead High Street so their kids can play there. Thanks (in part) to the mayor's donation, they seem to have hit their funding goal.


Podcast: Second city blues

Birmingham, c1964. Image: Getty.

This is one of those guest episodes we sometimes do, where we repeat a CityMetric-ish episode of another podcast. This week, it’s an episode of Friday 15, the show on which our erstwhile producer Roifield Brown chats to a guest about life and music.

Roifield recently did an episode with Jez Collins, founder of the Birmingham Music Archive, which exists to recognise and celebrate the musical heritage of one of England’s largest but least known cities. Roifield talks to Jez about how Birmingham gave the world heavy metal, and was a key site for the transmission of bhangra and reggae to western audiences, too – and asks why, with this history, does the city not have the musical tourism industry that Liverpool does? And is its status as England’s second city really slipping away to Manchester?

They also cover Birmingham’s industrial history, its relationship with the rest of the West Midlands, the loss of its live venues – and whether Midlands Mayor Andy Street can do anything about it.

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on AcastiTunes, or RSS. Enjoy.

I’ll be back with a normal episode next week.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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