Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Urban Regeneration and community development

Posted on July 23, 2012 by stephennicholl Peter Roberts defines urban regeneration as “comprehensive and integrated vision and action which leads to the resolution of urban problems and which seeks to bring about a lasting improvement in the economic, physical social and environmental condition of an area that has been subject to change.” This definition clearly moves the concept of urban regeneration away from the idea that there is one problem which, if corrected, will allow significant developmental change to occur by osmosis rather than by direct structured intervention. Whether the problem arises due to poor housing, de-industrialisation, un-employment or lack of educational or community facilities any solution which fails to take account of all of the interlocking issues will ultimately fail. Only by creating the opportunity for a long term intervention designed to comprehensively tackle all of the issues needing to be addressed by an urban regeneration process will success be possible. This is supported by the ODPM Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Committee who in their report on The Effectiveness of Government Regeneration Initiatives stated “One of the strongest messages we received was the importance of a ‘holistic’ approach to regeneration. The most deprived areas suffer from a combination of physical, economic and social problems. We are convinced that regeneration will only be successful and sustainable if programmes seek to address the array of challenges, striking a balance between ‘people’ and ‘place’ based regeneration, and recognising that neither can succeed without the other.” OPDM. The causes of urban decay can be varied and multi faceted, with one problem leading inexorably to another with each solution dependant on addressing additional problems. As early as the 1960’s the British Government recognised that urban decline and the breakdown in community were interlinked. This led to the establishment of Community Development Projects (CDP’s) which focussed initially on the social needs of the local community. As these developed through the early 70’s “resources were concentrated on educational projects, refuges for physically and mentally abused women, nursery care and provision for environmental schemes.” (Imrie and Raco, 2003, Pg 10). In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the change of Government brought a change of focus from social development to physical regeneration. “funding was made available for property-led projects that tended to prioritise economic development and business interests over those of local residents and community groups” (Imrie and Raco, 2003 Pg 11). This was symptomatic of the trickle down economic theory prevalent at the time where it was believed that by increasing the available private development in an area everyone would benefit. In 1999 the European Commission adopted a communication entitled Sustainable Urban Development in the European Union: A Framework for Action that highlighted four interdependent issues. These were • strengthening economic prosperity and employment in towns and cities (which in fact account for 80% of the population of the Union); • promoting equal opportunities, social integration and the rehabilitation of run-down areas; • improving the urban environment (management of transport, waste, energy etc.); • contributing to good urban governance and increased participation of local actors and citizens. http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/communic/caud/caud_en.htm It is clear that where the achievement of one or more of these objectives without the clear commitment to achieving all of the objectives occurs there remains a clear deficit in the long-term sustainability of the area. In Belfast the problems facing both physical regeneration and social development have been compounded by the political circumstances. These are clearly outlined by Gaffikin The combination of civil disorder, political uncertainty, terrorism and economic recession left Belfast with an inheritance of: poor housing; economic degeneration; low business morale; unemployment at around 20 per cent for much of the period; an ageing population; emigration; a declining city centre; a neglected river and waterfront; deepening community division; loss of external confidence; and poor educational achievement in innercity areas. Gaffikin pg 198. In Belfast the redevelopment of the city core around Castle Court, in conjunction with an improving security situation has provided the impetus for progressive development from that centre. Further intervention by Government to create a series of development initiatives such as the Cathedral Quarter, Laganside and the Gasworks redevelopment have all contributed to the improvement of the fabric of the city centre. However in many of these initiatives the opportunity to address the core issues affecting local communities has been negligible. As noted by Gaffikin “while cities need to sell themselves to the outside world, they can be marketed in forms recognisable to their inhabitants rather than in ways that sanitise all contention and contest inherent in city life. Taking neighbourhood as the building block ensures that community development transcends the solidarities of parochial space, opening up to the development agenda for the city as a whole. The quest is for a long-term economic renewal programme, geared to new high value-added sectoral specialisations, alongside a short to medium-term rescue programme, which lays the foundation for a sustainable city. This involves the integration of the physical with the social and economic.” Gaffikin pg 230 In 1994 the European Union introduced the URBAN programme with a focus on the community in need “URBAN targets neighbourhoods in extreme deprivation. It addresses the problems of isolation, poverty and exclusion of their inhabitants through interventions that improve the ensemble of their physical and social entourage. Thus the neighbourhood becomes the milieu that sets the conditions for increasing individual prosperity.” http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/urban2/urban/initiative/src/frame1.htm It also has a focus on the environment in which they live ”URBAN’s integrated approach takes account of all dimensions of urban life. It thus applies a package of projects that combine the rehabilitation of obsolete infrastructure with economic and labour market actions. These are complemented by measures to combat the social exclusion inherent in run-down neighbourhoods, and measures to upgrade the quality of the environment.” http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/urban2/urban/initiative/src/frame1.htm In Northern Ireland the URBAN 1 programme provided 17 million euros towards projects in the Greater Shankill and Upper Springfield in Belfast and in the Creggan and Fountain areas of Londonderry. In the Shankill area the URBAN programme focussed on the development of services for families and children in an area of high deprivation. The results were within the expected range in terms of numbers of participants and the physical development of three new centres used by nearly 600 children with 118 jobs created, however the long term benefits of such intervention have yet to be quantified. The project has been developed as part of the wider introduction of Surestart and as such is now core funded. However the creation of the integrated service model into secondary schools in the Shankill and West Belfast suggests that the benefits of early intervention through URBAN have not carried through as the same children benefiting from the URBAN 1 programme are now subject to further intervention as part of the Integrated Schools programme targeting secondary schools in the same area. A further URBAN II programme was delivered in the North Belfast area between 2003 and 2008 which focussed on a broader range of initiatives including the social economy, small scale capital improvements to buildings, community transport and a limited number of larger scale capital projects. Across a broad range of initiatives the funding applied to any one initiative was relatively small and as with URBAN 1 the short term nature of the intervention has left issues of sustainability to be resolved. The introduction of measures such as URBAN have focussed on those areas of highest deprivation which have not included the city centre. While significant private sector finance has lead city centre development such support has been absent in the deprived housing areas on the fringe of the centre. In the case of Belfast physical regeneration and social development have in many areas taken place as back to back development with limited cross-over. In the United States much of the drive for change in deprived areas since the late 19th century was the need to develop the land for economic opportunity. This could include slum clearances for commercial activity or to develop the road infrastructure in many areas. The major federal building programmes of the post depression era provided the resources and justification for such development. These programmes while focusing on the need for economic renewal had little concern for those being displaced from these districts. The passing of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 led to the Community Development Block Grant Program http://www.hud.gov which established the concept of regenerating deprived communities where they were rather than dispersing them. One of the main programme areas is described as “The CDBG entitlement program allocates annual grants to larger cities and urban counties to develop viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and opportunities to expand economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.” http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/. Again the concept of urban regeneration being a programme which addresses a range of issues including social regeneration as well as the physical environment has been accepted. The practical results of the implementation of such a process can be seen in a number of US examples. In 1967 in the Central Ward of Newark New Jersey a series of riots broke out which left 23 people dead and 15 million dollars worth of damage (at 1967 prices a significant sum). The following year the New Community Corporation was formed to lead a process of regeneration in an area which at that time had witnessed isolation as various road building and neighbouring regeneration schemes had left it isolated. The key issue identified at that time was the need to develop new housing both to replace what was a poor housing stock but also to retain the remaining population in an area which had suffered significant de-population due the flight of white residents to the suburbs, a common feature of inner city America in the 1960’s. Progressively over the past 40 years the New Community Corporation has led the way in the regeneration of the Central Ward, first in building social affordable homes for local residents and then seeking to address the same range of issues that the EU has recognised in its Framework for Action. Where there was no child care the NCC built a day care facility and then trained local residents to work in it. The need to create a long term facility for older people led not only to the building of such a facility and the training of staff for such a facility but also to extending the training provided to encourage local people to work at the local hospital. Many of these employment opportunities required people to wear a uniform, so NCC established a facility to make uniforms. They have established their own security service and where there was no local supermarket they opened one. All of this work has been taken on and delivered not on the basis of short term funding cycles as in the case of URBAN funding but in taking advantage of mainstream funding either federal or state to create sustainable development. Throughout the last 40 years the project has faced many difficulties, the rise in drug culture, gang warfare, political change and ever increasing demand. However it is clear that while the work to regenerate the area continues and is never ending the work that is carried out is founded in a long term vision of what the community could be like and it is a vision that people can buy into. There is a sense that the work is about regenerating people and place and everyone is able to identify key wins from the ongoing process. (Guskin and Pierce, 1994) In the United Kingdom the inter-related nature of the problems of decline and the need to provide long term integrated support has been recognised. As noted by the House of Commons Select Committee on Employment quoted in Imrie and Raco “UDC’s cannot be regarded as a success if buildings and land are regenerated but the local community are bypassed and do not benefit from regeneration.” (Imrie and Raco, 2003, Pg 11) The reliance on physical regeneration without the accompanying social development has exacerbated problems or led to displacement of the social issues. “Regeneration projects tended to encourage gentrification and rising land values, but did little to tackle and endemic shortage of affordable housing, job insecurity and the proliferation of low-waged employment.” (Imrie and Raco, 2003, Pg 11) However recognising the problem and addressing it continues to prove difficult where differing inter-departmental priorities and objectives mitigate against the joined up working needed to deliver real change. As noted by Lewis the legacy of Conservative Party policy in this area during the 1980’s resulted in a position where “government over recent years has placed too much faith in the ability of market forces to solve problems and has failed to match the complex and inter-locking nature of the problems found in urban areas with a co-ordinated inter-departmental and inter-agency response.” (Lewis, 1992, Pg 58) Since the early 2000’s a new strategic process defined as “community planning” has provided the basis for structured development in the United Kingdom. Through this process statutory and voluntary organisations, under the stewardship of local government, will work together to address the range of issues affecting local communities. “The two main aims of Community Planning can be described as: * Making sure people and communities are genuinely engaged in the decisions made on public services which affect them; allied to * A commitment from organisations to work together, not apart, in providing better public services” With a further two key principles defined as “# Community Planning as the key over-arching partnership framework helping to co-ordinate other initiatives and partnerships and where necessary acting to rationalise and simplify a cluttered landscape. # The ability of Community Planning to improve the connection between national priorities and those at regional, local and neighbourhood levels.” (THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN SCOTLAND ACT 2003 Community Planning: Statutory Guidance) By taking a long term view and addressing issues in a comprehensive manner, with inter-agency barriers reduced if not removed, the expectation is that physical regeneration, integrated with social regeneration with lead to improved outcomes. Experience has shown that where physical regeneration proceeds in a vacuum the result is often gentrification and the transplanting of the resident population. Social issues are not addressed merely geographically relocated. Where social action takes place in the absence of physical regeneration then those whose education has been improved, training enhanced or employment improved will move to more affluent areas. This leaves behind a community with an increasing level of social problems, unemployment and ill-health. Long term interventions covering a wide range of inter-related issues including social and physical regeneration provide the best model for the delivery of urban regeneration objectives. While in the UK the introduction of community planning provides the framework for such delivery the commitment of government to long term multi faceted intervention will determine the long term outcome of the policy. References Gaffikin, Frank. City Visions : Imagining Place, Enfranchising People. London, , GBR: Pluto Press, 1999. p 215. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/queensbelfast/Doc?id=2001155&ppg=230 30/11/10 15.00pm Guskind, R. and Peirce, N. Against the Tide New Community Corporation 1994 http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/communic/caud/caud_en.htm 30/11/10 15.00pm http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/urban2/urban/initiative/src/frame1.htm 30/11/10 15.00pm http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/ 30/11/10 15.00 pm http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2004/04/19168/35271#8 30/11/11 15.00pm

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