In many large cities, there is a "perfect storm" of greatly reduced local authority funding, increased housing need and a common model of house building where private developers build dwellings and move on, with little requirement to invest in managing and maintaining social or green infrastructure. In large new developments, it can take a generation to complete the scheme, so community capacity is not fixed and may be very small initially. There is also the challenge of integrating with existing neighbouring communities.
Austerity measures faced by many local authorities mean that their capacity to invest in local community cohesion initiatives and social infrastructure is being reduced or removed altogether, with many local authorities scaling back to delivering statutory requirements only. This means that alternative governance models need to be developed that enable local communities to play a much more pro-active and central role in managing and developing local assets and resources to respond to community needs and aspirations.
Adopting alternative institutional models can provide a formal body with the power to manage resources and to operate with the primary objective of benefiting the community. A Community Interest Company (CIC), as a type of social enterprise, can be formally constituted through its governing document with powers to hold and manage the community assets and to invest in community cohesion, social enterprise activities, and local infrastructure according to the needs and wishes of local residents and businesses. It is formally obliged to reinvest any surplus into the community.
A comprehensive vision for an area, with scope to be responsive to the growing and changing community, and adaptable over time, needs to be devised. This is used to guide a strategic management plan to develop pathways to achieve the vision, facilitating and empowering local communities to develop skills and activities that benefit the community. This is achieved through building social capital, enhancing the local environment, increasing the skills and training opportunities, and generating sustainable economic activities.
Some examples of transitioning activities include engaging interested residents in managing and maintaining green spaces, which could lead to activities such as local ecology and wildlife projects to enhance gardens and green spaces for amenity and for ecosystem services, helping to build local resilience, for example to flooding. Other examples involve providing opportunities to identify suitable community land for local people who are interested in food growing, such as the creation of community gardens and orchards that can grow local fresh produce for sale or for processing into products for sale. Further ideas exist, such as providing local assets such as community centres that could be used for social clubs and for harnessing and developing local skills and enterprise, leading to local job opportunities.
FACILITATORY (PUBLIC) BODIES:
urban regeneration department; community development department; land use planning department; green space department; health and social well-being department; environmental and sustainability department; asset management department
LOCAL TASK FORCE:
community group; local or regional authority; educational organisation; professional expert; landowner; business
dense inner city; underused urban site & building; brownfield development site; (sub-) urban communities
MAIN NECESSARY RESOURCES ARE:
community trust; monetary investments; space; local knowledge; expert knowledge; public institutional set-up; legal legitimization
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