Memorandum by The Wildlife Trusts (GRI
1. The Wildlife Trusts welcome this opportunity
to contribute to the enquiry of the Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister's Select Committee into the effectiveness of Government
2. The Wildlife Trusts are a partnership
of 47 local Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK and the
Isle of Man, supported by a UK Office. The partnership shares
two over-arching strategic aims: to achieve a UK richer in wildlife
and to develop people's enthusiasm and ability to engage with
wildlife and the environment. Contact with people from all sectors
of society, in urban and rural areas, is fundamental to the ethos
of The Wildlife Trusts.
3. The Wildlife Trusts have approximately
382,000 members, and 22,900 volunteers. They manage almost 2,500
nature reserves, covering more than 76,000 hectares of land, ranging
from inner city urban sites to the UK's finest wildlife areas.
These reserves provide an opportunity for people to enjoy, get
involved in, and learn about wildlife close to their homes: 80
per cent of the UK's population live within 10 miles of a Wildlife
Trust nature reserve.
Summary of key points
1. Long-term regeneration is more successful
if environmental considerations are placed at the centre of a
2. Regeneration initiatives must start with
local people's priorities, and develop these slowly and steadily.
3. Local people need to be supported and
trained to enable them to participate effectively in their local
4. Regeneration must be based on effective
partnerships that are balanced and genuinely share power.
5. A pragmatic and flexible approach to
the development of regeneration initiatives over time enables
them to evolve with the community's needs and aspirations.
6. Small, popular "early win"
projects, in which people have a stake, are vital to stimulating
and maintaining local involvement.
1. The contribution of area-based initiatives
to broader regeneration initiatives and regional strategies
In our experience, the key contributions of
area-based initiatives to the delivery of broader regeneration
Area-based initiatives target much
needed resources to areas of social disadvantage, economic need
and/or environmental degradation, and can benefit other parts
of the city, sub-region, or region that are linked to the target
Area-based regeneration initiatives
provide a mechanism for focusing and co-ordinating the actions
of several different agencies to achieve shared goals that would
not be attainable by the partners working in isolation. As the
problems of disadvantaged areas often stem from complex interactions
between social, environmental and economic disadvantage, the solutions
need to be holistic. This requires creative thinking, co-operative
working and co-ordinated planning and delivery, which are easier
to achieve within a defined target area.
Area-based regeneration initiatives
can provide an effective mechanism to balance the needs of local
people and local circumstances with those of regional and national
political processes, plans and strategies. It is often difficult
for local people and communities to interact effectively with
city-wide, sub-regional, regional or national processesparticularly
in areas suffering from multiple deprivation. As local people
are at the heart of any regeneration process, it is essential
that they participate and engage in the process. This is easiest
to achieve if action is planned and delivered at a scale at which
local people can relate, and if the mechanisms enabling engagement
are tailored to local circumstances.
2. The characteristics of successful regeneration
The experience of the Wildlife Trusts Partnership
highlights 11 principal characteristics of successful regeneration
1. Successful long-term regeneration is
more easily achieved if environmental considerations are placed
at the centre of a multi-functional approach than if they are
treated as a separate issue, woven around a traditional economic
development core. A holistic view of the needs of an area, developing
initiatives that address social, economic and environmental issues
are more successful than programmes with a single focus. For this
to be achieved, mechanisms that encourage joined-up thinking and
action, and avoid the problems of compartmentalisation, are essential.
2. Rigorous and inclusive planning is essential
for developing programmes that address local needs and aspirations,
within real local constraints, building on local strengths and
opportunities, in the context of broader strategies and plans.
3. Regeneration initiatives must start with
local people's priorities, and build slowly and steadily from
there. Initiatives that parachute in without first getting to
know and enlist the support of local people, or ones that drive
the agenda at a pace faster than local people are willing to go,
are likely to fail. Equally, political timescales of three to
five years are not adequate to achieve lasting regeneration, or
to measure the real impacts of these initiatives. The need for
regeneration processes to operate as slowly as required by the
local community to ensure long-term success must be matched by
a long-term approach to funding regimes.
4. Successful large scale delivery of capital
programmes should only follow satisfactory community-based strategic
development and planning, but small, popular "early win"
projects, in which people have a stake, are vital to stimulating
and maintaining local involvement during the development and planning
5. Effective communication is central to
successful regeneration. It is important for regeneration funders
and delivery agencies to communicate their thoughts and intentions
clearly, in ways appropriate to their target audiences. They must
also develop mechanisms that allow honest dialogue between the
many stakeholders and those responsible for the regeneration process.
6. Local people need to be supported and
trained to enable them to participate effectively in their local
regeneration initiatives. Without appropriate support, training
and development, people in the most disadvantaged communities
can often fail to engage effectively. Active opportunities for
involvement other than consultation, for example through intermediate
labour markets or community businesses, can be accessible entry
7. It is important to base regeneration
on effective partnerships that are balanced and genuinely share
powerwith each member of the partnership truly having a
share in decision-making and carrying responsibility for making
things work. Proactive recruitment of project partners from all
sectors is more successful than an agency-led approach.
8. Initiatives that are underpinned by flexible,
creative and non-bureaucratic funding regimes, that account properly
for money whilst being easily accessible, succeed far better than
those where the purse-strings are held by agencies more intent
on managing and auditing the process than achieving outcomes.
Community buy-in to a regeneration programme is vital for success,
but funding regimes and reporting processes often act to increase
paperwork and bureaucracy beyond the ability of local organisations
and individuals to deal with it. Funds can be properly accounted
for through more user-friendly and accessible funding structures.
100 per cent funding, expert advice for time-limited periods,
or funding for training can all help initiatives get off the ground
and overcome local suspicion or apathy. Sustained revenue funding
is essential to maintain the benefits of regeneration initiatives
beyond the life of capital projects. Successful regeneration initiatives
attract matched funding from non-governmental sourcescharitable
or commercialwhich makes such programmes more sustainable.
9. Social inclusion is fundamental to urban
regeneration, but regeneration initiatives often suffer from inadequate
skills and inappropriate participation mechanisms to engage all
sectors of the local communityespecially young people and
ethnic minorities. Real access to the process at all levels through
appropriate consultation and opportunities for participation by
all sectors of the community is vital.
10. Regeneration should be sustainable,
and must be planned from the outset with this in mind. Sustainability
must be measured in the short, medium and long term, and should
have social, economic and environmental components. The establishment
of a locally controlled capital asset-base as part of the regeneration
programme can serve the dual function of giving local communities
a real stake in the future of their local neighbourhood, and providing
a source of ongoing revenue to support the future development
and maintenance of local facilities, open spaces, landscaping
11. Finally, a pragmatic and flexible approach
to the development of regeneration initiatives over time enables
them to evolve with the community's needs and aspirations and
with changing social and economic conditions.
3. The Involvement of local communities
Local communities are central to the successful
delivery of regeneration initiatives, as they represent the major
potential solution to many of the problems experienced by their
neighbourhoods. They will be the users of future infrastructure,
services and facilities; the customers and workers for future
local enterprises; the owners and occupiers of newly regenerated
housing and the beneficiaries of local environmental improvements.
Successful regeneration is carried out largely for, and by, the
people who live and/or work in the area. They must be fully engaged
in decision-making about the future of their neighbourhood, in
developing priorities and strategic direction, and in the delivery
of regeneration action.
For this to happen, regeneration processes must
clearly structured, widely publicised
and well supported mechanisms through which local people can participate
in planning, priority-setting, monitoring and delivery;
locally accountable democratic processes
operating at the scale of the regeneration area, involving local
politicians, and local representatives of the community, voluntary,
faith and business sectors;
adequate consultation and participation
mechanisms tailored to the requirements of all sectors of societyincluding
young people, the elderly and ethnic minority groups, including
support in terms of expenses and cre"che facilities;
opportunities for local people to
develop and deliver consultation, participation and evaluation
programmes within their own neighbourhoods, and to be paid for
grant aid and other funding regimes
that have simple enough bureaucracy and clear enough application,
reporting and claiming procedures to facilitate their up-take
by local community groups;
training programmes aimed at increasing
local capacity to participate effectively in the regeneration
process, and at increasing both skill levels and employability
of local people;
funding agencies that tailor their
application, monitoring, reporting and claiming arrangements to
suit the needs of community organisations, such as payment of
funds in advance of incurring expenditure against them to avoid
effective partnership arrangements
in which local people and organisations from the voluntary, community
and faith sectors engage as equals with local, regional and national
government, public sector agencies and the private sector.
Co-ordinated, integrated environment programmes
for regeneration areas can provide excellent opportunities to
deliver all of the above and link them into a range of economic
and social regeneration activities. Small-scale environmental
projects are a particularly good way of involving community members
and stimulating a sense of community pride.
4. Democratic accountability
It is important to establish specific locally
appropriate arrangements that involve local Councillors and elected
representatives of the voluntary, community, business and faith
sectors in the development and monitoring of plans and strategies.
This will require the provision of training, support, and even
payment, to those involved, if problems of "local decision-making
paralysis", are to be avoided.
Democratic accountability can be increased by:
Representation of all sectors of
the community at all levels, with recognition that such representation
is easier for statutory bodies than for voluntary or community
Proactive searches for sector representatives
rather than relying on the "usual suspects";
Clear communication of the parameters
of the initiative and managed expectations;
The evaluation process should be
part of the accountability system so that community members have
opportunities to influence and challenge progress;
A community development trust (see
case study) increases local accountability.
Whether through scepticism or other circumstances,
members of the community may need convincing of the inclusiveness
of initiatives. As a result, there is a need to cultivate democratic
accountability over the period of a regeneration initiative, rather
than assuming that the initial accountability mechanism is correct
and that people cannot be bothered to participate.
5. Whether and where area-based Initiatives
have brought about sustained improvements to deprived communities
Many regeneration schemes have a "quick
fix" mentality which can provide large-scale physical improvement
that produces a short-term cosmetic effect rather than sustainable
improvement. Where physical regeneration schemes are linked to
community regeneration, schemes become more sustainable. Project
holders must have a long-term vested interest in the success and
sustainability of the scheme.
An example of an area-based initiative bringing
about sustained improvements in deprived communities in Sheffield
is given in Appendix 1 as a case study.
6. Arrangements necessary to ensure that benefits
to local residents continue after the end of a regeneration initiative
The sustainability of a regeneration programme
depends on the ability of the process to produce sufficiently
strong partnerships, committed to taking initiatives forward after
the regeneration funding runs out. In particular, existing budget-holders
must be engaged in the regeneration process, and encouraged to
shift their ongoing budget commitments towards the delivery of
agreed common goals. This will require some form of locally endorsed
action plan agreed between the key partners, both during and after
the regeneration process.
Creative solutions to the onward resourcing
of regeneration programmes must be built in at the outsetsuch
as the establishment of community enterprises around the delivery
of environmental services, some of which can be delivered under
contract to the local authority, and some of which can be sold
on the open market. From day one there must be a post initiative
strategy so that sustainability is always a part of the equation.
Access to further funding opportunities will remove some of the
vulnerability from organisations and groups. The establishment
of a capital asset base in local community ownership, to provide
ongoing revenue income for community use, can be effective.
Careful linking into other strategies, particularly
the Community Strategy, so that there is some ongoing process
rather than an abrupt termination of activity, will increase sustainability,
as will the encouragement of organisations such as local community
7. Whether policy has taken account of long-term
impacts as well as the outputs created
In the economic and social arenas, regeneration
policy is encouraging a more joined-up and flexible approach to
developing initiatives that increases the likelihood of their
A major failing of regeneration policy is a
lack of acknowledgement of the social and economic benefits of
a well-managed environment. The Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy,
for example, has only two environmental targets out of circa 150,
on waste and air quality. The report of the Urban Green Spaces
Task Force, which demonstrated the policy and funding vacuum for
the urban environment, needs to be integrated into mainstream
There is considerable evidence that environmental
regeneration has a major impact on the social and economic well
being of an area, including increased educational attainment,
greater community cohesion and confidence, enhanced public health,
reduced crime rates and increased local affluence. It can bring
local employment, jobs, training and other economic benefits such
as reduced heating costs in buildings, decreased cost of health
care, decreased cost of flood defence and drainage works and increased
property values. Even so, regeneration initiatives in which all
these elements (health, education, social inclusion, housing,
flood defence, safety and economy) are hung around a central environmental
core are generally regarded as innovative and ground-breaking,
rather than simply delivering high quality regeneration in appropriate,
effective and efficient ways.
The environmental elements of regeneration schemes
have proved successful in engaging people from ethnic minorities
and other "hard to reach" groups. This is because the
environment can provide a more neutral basis for involvement and
communication, as well as a mutually understandable "language"
and common ground. Regeneration initiatives would be far more
sustainable and successful if the local environment were placed
at the heart of the programmes.
8. Whether initiatives have had a effect on
the major Government and local programmes
Many local Wildlife Trusts are involved in successful
regeneration partnerships, using local environmental improvements
to build confidence and skills in addition to their positive impact
on the area. Despite these examples showing the need to raise
the profile of the local environment in regeneration initiatives,
inadequate funding and planning for environmental projects is
the norm. Examples such as the innovative and successful Manor
and Castle case study (attached) need to be incorporated into
9. Whether lessons have been learned from
Some current initiatives are adopting a more
community and revenue based approach to regeneration, building
on the success of previous programmes, such as the innovative
current SRB6 programme in Bolton. This programme, however, is
struggling to maintain its innovative approach, in part because
it requires a different approach to regeneration and thus is a
learning process for all partners.
A clear lesson from previous programmes is the
need for funding to be available over a longer period of time,
with a greater emphasis on capacity building in all sectors of
the community. The impact of social, economic and environmental
deprivation frequently becomes embedded in the psyche of the communities
concerned and requires a great deal of effort to change. In such
communities, buy-in will be incremental at best. As a result,
the process of community engagement must be continuous and gradual
rather than bulldozing. Partnerships are rarely equal and due
recognition must be given to the varying speeds of participation.
Another lesson from previous programmes is that
the low economic base from which the community is starts can be
a barrier to success. Enabling small industries to come into an
area can lift a community onto the first rung of the economic
ladder. The case study shows how environmental projects can employ
people and produce things to sell, and how this economic activity
is a key element of the initiative's sustainability.
10. How the Government should decide when
to introduce an area-based initiative, and whether there are successful
A reactive, short-term approach to area-based
initiatives can lead to situations, such as in Halliwell, Bolton,
where, despite some improvements, the underlying problems persist
at the end of funding programmes. When no more area-based funding
is available for some years, the downward spiral continues.
Area-based schemes can foster resentment from
communities outside their boundaries that have similar problems
but are not being offered solutions- area funding is divisive
in nature. Burnley is proving susceptible to extremist (BNP) politics
because of this perception of apportionment.
Community development trusts (see case study
in Appendix one) are an innovative alternative to the traditional
area-based initiative. There should be more encouragement of such
schemes where the community has inherently much more ownership
and control of the process.