The civic organiser who gets local voices heard

Jane Maggs helped Southgate residents share their views on a contentious planning application

Jane Maggs is the vice-chair of Southgate District Civic Voice
Jane Maggs is the vice-chair of Southgate District Civic Voice

Trying to understand the processes of local democracy and how you can get your voice heard on local issues can be a bewildering experience.

That’s why every community needs someone like Jane Maggs, who knows what rights local people have, how they can have their say, and can facilitate discussions between residents and the organisations making decisions that will affect their lives.

Two years ago it was revealed that a 17-storey redevelopment was being proposed in Southgate that would substantially alter the look and feel of the town centre, a designated conservation area. Jane, as vice-chair of Southgate District Civic Voice (SDCV), led a campaign to ensure the views of local people were listened to.

She helped organise a community planning weekend in a local church to encourage the wider community to come together to discuss and respond to the application. Jane then contacted Civic Voice, a national charity representing the civic movement, to seek their help in facilitating a series of workshops to give local people a better understanding of the issues at hand – more than 250 people subsequently attended.

A year later, after 451 local people objected to the scheme and just 22 supported it, councillors on Enfield Council’s planning committee rejected the developer’s plans.

Jane said: “People were concerned about what was happening but didn’t know where to go. I wanted to use that energy in a positive way, to give people a voice.

“We know that places change, it is not about stopping that, but it is about making sure that the change is appropriate.

“We want to improve where we live and ensure planning applications are to a high standard.”

Jane’s efforts in raising awareness of the Southgate Office Village proposal were recently recognised by The Planner magazine, which named her as one of its ‘women of influence’.

Jane’s next mission is putting together a submission on behalf of Southgate residents for the upcoming appeal hearing against the council’s decision, which has been lodged by the developer and will be heard later this year.

Enfield Community Heroes

This article is the latest in our ‘Enfield Community Heroes’ series, sponsored by Edmonton Green Shopping Centre. Dispatch readers are welcome to nominate their own local hero – someone who has gone above and beyond to help support the local community. Simply email your nomination to [email protected].