About the CGCA
About the Covent Garden Community Association
The Covent Garden Community Association (CGCA) is a registered charity (No. 274468). Its aims are laid out in its formal Constitution. It is a membership organisation managed by an elected voluntary committee. The CGCA is recognised as a local amenity society by both of the area’s local authorities (London Borough of Camden and City of Westminster) and as such is consulted by both on area policy, planning and licensing.
The CGCA was formally constituted in 1971 to focus the grassroots opposition to the Greater London Council’s ill-conceived plans to comprehensively redevelop the area: to build a sort of raised island of high-rise offices, hotels and conference centres, surrounded by a multi-laned highway. Much of the resident population would have been grubbed up and ‘decanted’, without their consent.
What the CGCA does now…
As in many areas of Central London, the popularity and economic success of Covent Garden brings its own problems – increases in short-term residential letting with its transient and unconnected tenants; continual pressure for late night licensing of bars and clubs and the attendant nuisance this can bring; an increase in anti-social behaviour and street crime; soaring commercial and residential rents and much more.
The CGCA works for the protection and enhancement of Covent Garden for the benefit of all who live, work and visit the area. This work is carried out by a dedicated band of local volunteers who generously donate their expertise, time and enthusiasm to the community. More volunteers are always welcome. Could you spare some time?
Communities have a voice that our forebears did not have, in part thanks to the determination of the people living here in the 1970s. We will continue to ensure that our community’s voice is heard and respected.
What the CGCA has done…
The long and arduous struggle to over-turn the GLC’s plans in the 1970s saw the CGCA making formal High Court and Public Enquiry representations; organising public and media campaigns; carrying out endless leafleting and door-knocking; mustering rallies and marches; supporting community theatre, festivals and celebrations; instigating projects including permanent and short-life housing, gardens, provisions for the young and the older residents; and imaginative direct action.
In 1973 the plans were defeated. Then began the uphill task of working out a plan that would take into account the needs of the residential community. The people that had lived in the area for many years, including second and third generation families, needed decent housing, health care provision, safe streets, recreational facilities and useful shops.
The CGCA’s vigorous and determined high-profile campaign influenced national opinion away from wholesale redevelopment and towards a more conservationist approach. British planning history was changed forever in 1981 when the CGCA applied for a judicial review against the GLC in a planning case. Until then only parties with an ownership interest in disputed lands could take legal action. Justice Wolf accepted the CGCA’s arguments that it had sufficient interest to bring such a case and, from that day, community groups have had ‘locus standi’ to appear in court.
Over the years the CGCA has instigated, fundraised and campaigned for many practical projects, some of which thrive to this day, among them: low density social housing, the Seven Dials Housing Co-op, the Seven Dials Club and Community Centre, the Covent Garden Area Trust, the Phoenix Community Garden, the Jubilee Hall Sports Centre and The Dragon Hall Trust.