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.