Memorandum by Steve Stevens, Links Research
City Challenge, SRB, NDC and NMP have provided
Partnership working involving stakeholders
functioning within individual programmes that has created opportunities
for a broader skills base from which to deliver initiatives.
The involvement of the private sector
in regeneration schemes, beyond capital investment projects or
in kind support, does require a clearer understanding of the objectives
of ABIs and the role that companies might play. Such partnership
working requires a robust regeneration strategy whereby scheme
board members and the communities involved are able to engage
the private sector in order to achieve specific outcomes.
The involvement of the community
in planning and developing ABIs have highlighted the need for
early engagement of local people so that they can grow with the
initiative and move beyond token consultative frameworks.
Mainstream bending as a strategic
goal rather than leverage that is often limited to the life of
specific projects. Although mainstream players are faced with
tight budget constraints, there is often a need for an operational/delivery
cultural change within their organisations in addressing/meeting
locally defined need.
Projects should make a positive contribution
to sustainable development and thus leave structures/organisations
in place that are of tangible benefit to local communities.
The advantages of developing ABIs
as part of a coherent regeneration strategy eg across a city,
county or region. Thus ABIs should be seen as part of a coherent
whole rather than discrete initiatives with limited outcomes.
This could provide distinct benefits/lessons for other initiatives
across geographically broader areas and present enhanced opportunities
for local communities eg estate based residents engaged in training/labour
While there is no simple formula regarding the
characteristics of regeneration schemes, some elements are crucial:
The scheme should preferably be linked
to wider regeneration initiatives in a given area.
The objectives should be clearly
defined both in terms of being an ABI and in being linked to wider
A clear operational structure should
be developed that enables potential recipients to fully participate
in the decision-making process and the subsequent delivery of
the programme (eg. Royds Bradford SRB).
The development of a legitimate policy-making
board and day-to-day management team that function to receive
and disseminate information and thereby deliver a programme that
is inclusive and meets locally defined needs.
The objectives and outcomes of the
regeneration scheme should be clearly defined and agreed at the
outset, so that the question of ownership of the scheme is established.
This is crucial if schemes are to develop and change over time
and delivery plans are to be operational blueprints for the delivery
The regeneration scheme must develop
a robust forward strategy that is closely linked to programme
objectives and sustainability. This should be viewed as part of
the strategic planning process that will require updating over
the lifetime of the scheme.
Regeneration schemes could often
benefit from external expertise (eg mainstream players/stakeholder
agencies) providing the ground rules for partnership working are
fully agreed and established by the partners.
In developing and encouraging the involvement
of local communities it is necessary to:
Spend time in the initial stages
of the scheme to develop a regeneration programme that is owned
by local people. Ownership is clearly linked to commitment and
the perception that local communities can make things happen.
Develop appropriate strategic planning,
delivery and monitoring structures (such as scheme boards, management
teams and advisory teams) that offer opportunities for direct
participation by the community. Local people should be encouraged
to participate through the mechanisms of local elections for key
posts, job recruitment to the programme and mentoring/training
to enhance their skills repertoire.
Instigate a local skills audit to
identify gaps and/or training needs within the community, so that
local involvement becomes a reality rather than a desired outcome.
Develop robust channels of communication
between the scheme and local people as a precursor to local communities
becoming fully aware of the potential for regeneration in their
area and as a mechanism for involving them in regeneration.
Recognise that the involvement of
local people can take time and may therefore need to be part of
a process that pre-dates any regeneration programme, with a separate
budget linked to capacity building within the community.
Leave in place some organisations/structures
that are clearly operated by and for the local community as part
of a sustainable development strategy.
In building democratic accountability the following
factors should be considered:
The key issue of democratic accountability
lies in the question of ownership and the degree of local involvement.
Any regeneration initiatives need
to be accountable to those communities who are on the receiving
end of regeneration activity.
As stated above, the involvement
of local people on management boards through an agreed elective
process must be accountable to the community. This should entail
clear channels of communication that offer a two-way dialogue
between those delivering the scheme and the wider community, including
hard to reach/BME groups.
Even where external expertise is
employed by the regeneration team, there is a need to ensure that
control lies with the scheme/management team who are answerable
to the local community.
Where an external Accountable Body
is appointed for a scheme, tensions can arise in determining the
outputs/outcomes of the programme, particularly in cases where
there is perceived to be no democratic accountability on the part
of the Accountable Body.
It should be recognised that the
process democratic accountability is a relatively new concept
for local communities faced with regeneration opportunities and
therefore requires time in the development of appropriate delivery
structures that are seen to be accountable.
While clear improvements have resulted
from specific regeneration initiatives, often these have been
associated with the physical/environmental regeneration of an
area. While such outcomes are to be welcomed, closer links need
to be made with socio-economic initiatives that address such issues
as health care, the economic security of communities and leisure
Sustainability is not simply linked
to the objectives/outcomes of discrete schemes, but is often reliant
on the characteristics of the wider geographical area that inevitably
lie beyond the control of discrete initiatives eg local labour
markets, housing markets, regional health policies. In consequence
any regeneration programme needs to have cognisance of the broader
As stated above, local sustainability
can be greatly enhanced through an early commitment to capacity
building within communities and in the development of a clear
forward planning strategy that recognises the need to strengthen
and/or leave in place structures and organisations that are owned
and supported by local people.
Forward strategies should be periodically
reviewed in the light of changing circumstances during the life
of the regeneration programme, so that new opportunities are maximised
with respect to future sustainability. This strategy should dovetail
with the production of annual delivery plans, rather than remaining
as static statement of intent.
Royds Bradford and Hangleton Knoll
(Brighton) SRBs have provided positive examples of programme sustainability
in developing structures that will have a lasting impact on their
respective communities. In the case of Royds the community has
not only benefited from significant housing improvements, but
has been able to participate in a range of economic and social
initiatives that collectively have raised the communities' self
image across three housing estates. From the experience of SRB,
Royds Community Association now advises other regeneration schemes
such as NDCs, particularly on community involvement. In HK the
scheme sought to build on community activity through the expansion
of existing community centres/activities and the development of
tailor made training/employment initiatives that gave residents
on these peripheral housing estates increased opportunities to
access the wider Brighton labour market.
Forward strategy planning should
commence during the initial stages of the regeneration programme
in determining the short and long-term goals of the scheme.
Capacity building is a crucial element
if communities are to take advantage and build upon any regeneration
initiatives. While this has become a mantra, opportunities should
be created for local people to build upon/obtain the necessary
skills to enable them to develop regeneration activities beyond
the life of the existing programme. As stated a local skills audit
is a positive starting point.
Regeneration activity should be more
closely linked to mainstream players and the bending of mainstream
programmes (eg housing, health care, crime prevention measures)
as funding for major regeneration activity is usually beyond the
reach of local communities. Experience has shown that even for
professional organisations, securing regeneration funding can
be a highly competitive process.
Programmes need to be inclusive in
encouraging local communities to become involved in the regeneration
process and in so doing build the confidence of local people to
intervene in the development of their community.
Building on existing community based
initiatives/organisations that encourage continuity of regeneration
activity over time.
Encouraging the private sector to
become more active in the regeneration process through the development
of a stronger economic base at the local level that moves beyond
short-term capital investment programmes (eg private housing development).
Encourage local authorities to develop
coherent strategies that address the key issues for deprived areas
within their jurisdiction, as this strategy would focus regeneration
activity and provide opportunities for mainstream players to rethink
their sub-regional/district policy in relation to deprivation.
LSPs could offer an opportunity for a more coherent regeneration
strategy across LA administrative areas.
For the majority of regeneration
programmes there have been few opportunities to consider the longer
term impacts from the operation of labour markets, housing policy,
crime measures, health policy, environmental issues etc. that
are often functioning within a much wider geographical area.
It is difficult to determine whether
small regeneration schemes can take full advantage of changes
in central government policy, inward investment, or the introduction
of health care programmes that often have little correspondence
with small areas of deprivation such as housing estates or inner
Staff operating regeneration programmes
are often limited in number and do not therefore always have the
opportunity to take stock of the wider changing socio-economic
environment in which they function. Project managers are similarly
placed, though sometimes try to capitalize on local developments
in terms of labour markets, training opportunities, local authority
policy, European funding and Lottery finance.
Where discrete regeneration schemes
are linked to regeneration organisations that operate across broader
geographical areas and have access to several sources of funding,
then there should be increased opportunities to link individual
schemes to wider policy issues.
A major problem has been the rapid
pace of change within the area of local regeneration. For example
the increasing interest in partnership working and mainstream
bending has partly grown from the lessons of SRB.
To some extent the latter rounds
of SRB have pointed up some of the limitations of weak partnership
working and the implications of limited mainstream bending in
the context of sustainable development. While leverage from mainstream
players has been evident, there is much less evidence of the bending
of main programmes to the needs of local schemes. In some cases
this has resulted in ABI funding being perceived as a reason why
mainstream bending has not focused on small geographical areas
such as housing estates.
The SRB programme has also provided
lessons for NDC, NMP and LSPs in terms of community involvement
in the regeneration process, strategic planning, democratic accountability,
links between ABIs and broader regeneration initiatives and the
need for sustainable development.
In many respects SRB, NDC and NMP
have also provided evidence of the need for a stronger commitment
to local democracy and the implications that this approach will
have on the involvement of local communities.
While ABIs have had some success,
a key question relates to their links with wider regeneration
activity within a given geographical area. As indicated above,
the potential impact of an ABI is greatly enhanced if it is delivered
within a broader strategic framework that in turn offers wider
opportunities to local communities.
ABIs operating in isolation are often
hampered by the lack of continuation funding and can witness the
evaporation of local involvement as projects come to the end of
In encouraging mainstream funding
and/or private sector involvement with ABIs, it may be more logical
to make the case for directing funding and formulating policy
towards macro-policy initiatives involving a number of ABIs, that
could subsequently benefit from a coherent devolution of budgets
to meet locally defined needs. This is in stark contrast to the
current situation in which individual ABIs approach mainstream
funders/private sector on a piecemeal basis.
ABIs (eg NDCs and NMPs) as part of
a coherent regeneration strategy for a geographical area could
be incorporated into local authority initiatives in developing
LSPs that could offer wider scope for mainstream, voluntary and
private sector players to become involved in local regeneration
initiatives, but on the basis of a clearly defined role in this