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URS 306 Regenerating Urban Communities
Communities can play a critical role in the regeneration of their neighburhoods. Critically
examine the advantages and challenges of engaging local communities in the process.
This essay will explore the role of community participation in the process of urban
regeneration at a neighbourhood scale, providing brief description of the term community
participation, summary of the background and context of how it came about to policy agenda
nationally and the significance it has played in the history of renewal policies. This will be
followed by a section which looks at the advantages and challenges of engaging communities in
this regeneration. The final part of the essay will be discussing the potential that community
participation has in the governance of our future cities and will provide a summary of the key
arguments presented in the essay.
The term “community participation” has been widely debated on in the fields of
sociology, planning and human geography, depending on what will be the nature of the
participation- social(responsibility and citizenship related to development projects in a local
area) or political(activist movements and groups). Various definitions exist such as the one
provided by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development : “… the organized
effort to increase control over resources and regulative institutions on the parts of groups and
movements hitherto excluded from such control”, (UNRISD, 2004; pp.9). Gaventa and
Valderrama, (1999) interpret this definition as participation which is located outside the state and
situated among the people and groups who have been excluded from the existing institutions.
Another definition produced by the World Bank refers to participation where “…stakeholders
influence and share the control over development initiatives and the decisions and resources
which affects them”, (World Bank, 1995, pp, 2).
However, in planning terms, community participation is perceived as a multifaceted
process which can take many forms and scales as well as be influenced by numerous factors.
Participation is the power which enables communities to take control over certain development
decisions which could potentially affect their lives, homes and local areas, and also determines
the willingness of individuals to work together towards a shared goal for better future of the
public realm, (NRU, 2003; Rogers and Robinson, 2004). One of the most debated topics in terms
of community participation, however, is the scale of participation that communities take. It has
been discussed by many (Cooke and Kothari, 2001; Atkinson, 1999a; Jones and Evans, 2008)
that the so-called ”empowerment” of communities actually results in unequal actors making the
decision-making process rather undemocratic. Therefore, many authors have produced different
kinds of categorizations of community participation, measuring the levels of involvement and
control that communities are given by the state or claimed by themselves. Such categorizations
include the famously debated Ladder of Participation, (Fig1.), by Arnstein (1969), which others
have expanded or built upon.
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The ladder includes three main scales of participation: Nonparticipation,
Tokenism and Citizen Power. The Nonparticipation section describes an approach where
community voices and opinions are manipulated or are given arena to discuss matters-therapy-
however, without having any impact on the actual decision-making process. Tokenism involves a
form of consultation procedure, which informs the community of what is happening and the
decisions that are being made, but not giving them the opportunity to actively participate in the
discussion. Finally Citizen Power is where a community has the opportunity to actively engage
and be a partner in decision-making, with the ability to influence and change the course of the
development. Other examples and representations of measuring community participation include
Davidson’s Wheel of Empowerment (1998), the Wheel of Involvement (Smith and Beasley,
2000), describing the spaces of involvement- The Power Cube, (Gaventa, 2004), and the
Spidergram of Participation (Laverack, G., 2006). All of them represent different interpretations
of community involvement.
The evolution of community participation in the public policy agenda in the UK dates
back to the 1960s, and back then it was discussed in relation to tackling emerging issues with
deprived communities. Numerous government initiatives took place with the purpose of handling
the issues of deprivation and poverty, such as the Education Priority Areas, Housing Action
Areas, General Improvement Areas, national Community Development Programmes and many
others, (Tallon, 2010). The main reasons for the need to address those issues of deprivation were
the numerous racial tensions which emerged back then and also the discovery that the welfare
Figure 1. Arnstein’s
Ladder of Participation,
(1969)
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state did not solve the problem of poverty. The Skeffington report in1969 contributed to this
process by emphasizing the need of more public participation in the field of planning, (ibid).
According to Taylor, (2003), there were two main basis on which community participation was
built on in the late 1960s. The first one suggested that the problem was rooted in communities
themselves and that these communities need to be restored before “cycles of deprivation” took
place- before generational deprivation occurs. This restoration process was initiated though the
New Towns and slum clearance programmes. The second reason claimed that the problem is in
the public services, where a lack of co-ordination existed between the fast growing local
governments and the services it delivered. Other later researches suggested that community
deprivation beginnings laid in wider trends such as the global economy and indeed in the late
1970s the oil crisis led to economic recession, which increased the strain on the working class. In
order to cope with this, the government shifted its approach from community deprivation to
creating jobs and training programmes, (Tallon, 2010). This more economic approach
experienced its momentum during the Thatcher government when a market-led initiative took
place. The general assumption was that economic development in poorer areas will lead to
trickle-down effect to deprived communities, (Healey et al, 1992). However, this did not happen
and deprived populations became displaced and bypassed by this economic development and it
resulted in many left local authorities providing a field for participation to marginalized groups.
By the end of 1980s, community development was happening in opposition to central
government approaches.
With the arrival of the Major government in 1990, the marked-led agenda decreased.
There was an emphasis on consumerism and community involvement, which led to the creation
of City Challenge and the Single Regeneration Budget, initiatives which demanded consultation
process with communities. The time scale in which this process was expected to happen was too
unrealistic, however, it brought community voice on the table and led to tenant involvement in
management, which gave tenants the right to vote on having different landlords, therefore giving
them an opportunity for longer-term involvement and decreased dependency, (Stewart and
Taylor, 1995; Hastings et al, 1996). This shift towards community involvement was further
developed by the New Labour government, with a key focus on tackling social exclusion.
Community involvement became the most debated and included feature in government policies.
The emphasis was to give actual power and responsibility to communities to help themselves,
(SEU, 1998). Through the formation of various units such as the Active Community Unit and
the Civil Renewal Unit, communities became the main actor in regeneration and renewal
schemes, leading to the creation of numerous programmes- the New Deal for Communities and
National Strategy for Neighborhood Renewal being two of the many, (Skidmore et al, 1999).
The National Strategy led to the creation of Local Community Partnerships, which assembled all
major actors at the local level to encourage their working together in order to resolve issues such
as poverty, crime, education and development of the neighbourhood. They were required to
develop neighbourhood renewal strategies and funding was made available to support the
involvement of the voluntary and community sector in LSPs. The National Strategy had four
main goals:
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4
Social capital: developing capacity, confidence and skills
Social inclusion and cohesion: networking, cohesion and co-ordination
Governance: developing an effective vice, and involving communities
Service delivery: influencing public service delivery giving communities and
effective voice” , (ODPM, 2005a, in Tallon, 2010, pp.144)
These goals needed to be achieved alongside other trends such as modernizing local
governments, creating democratic and civil renewal, and a comprehensive third sector policy,
(Tallon, 2010). A key feature in achieving this in planning terms was the promotion of mixed
communities, with social diversity in social housing estates which were described as
experiencing multiple deprivation. The Neighbourhood Renewal policy took another turn in
2006, with a new ambition aiming at devolution- central government funding for the
neighbourhood regeneration schemes is devolved to local authority levels with the localism
agenda, (ESRC, 2007). Further government policies in terms of community involvement
included the 2008/2009 programme for Community Empowerment, Housing and Economic
Regeneration which had the purpose of delivering more opportunities for communities and
individuals In 2012 the Abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies and David Cameron’s Big
Society Plan were two major influences on giving more control to local authorities over planning
and developments and encouraging people to take more active roles in their communities
through the transfer of power from central to local government. Communities were expected to
not only participate, but to be responsible for their futures.
Through the evolution of community participation in public policy, it can be seen that it
has played an integral part in the UK’s government agenda during the past few decades.
Community inclusion in the New Labour government since 1997 has been inspired by ideas such
as social capital by Robert Putnam. According to him, social capital represents networks, norms
and trust in a community and it enables individual participants to work together more effectively
in order to achieve a common objective, (Putnam, 1995). Social capital has been associated in
many researches, (PIU, 2002; Halpern, 2004), with improved governance, health and economic
growth, and decrease in crime and poverty levels and therefore it has the potential to aid in urban
regeneration and the general improvement of deprived areas. New Labour shifted its agenda
from social exclusion and economic development to social capital and the inclusion of
communities in the decision-making process. However, Taylor, (2007), argues that this new
arena for community power is still governed by the state and the only change that has occurred is
shifting responsibility to lower levels of governance.
The UK, alongside many other countries around the world, such as Italy, Canada and
Chile, recognized that this approach to urban regeneration of integrating communities by all
means contributes to better multiple social outcomes and the utilization of the local residents’
knowledge of the issues and demands of certain areas proves to be more efficient in resolving
them. Through the encouragement of participation, local communities feel integrated in the
development of their area and thus making it more likely for them to protect it and take care of it
in the future. Involvement also contributes to the development of skills and well-informed social
capital, which can result in many benefits such as decreased dependency on welfare provision,
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improvement of social cohesion, shared interests and place identity, (Sorensen, 2010; Kearns,
2003; Taylor; 2002).
Therefore involving communities in the regeneration of their local areas proves to have
various advantages. Communities can serve as a valuable resource of information and skills.
They are aware of the history, culture and identity of the place, what are the main demands and
needs of the community, thus they have the ability to contribute in the needs analysis of a project
brief and applications for funding, (Sorensen, 2010; Involve, 2005; Bailey; 2010). Citizens can
identify shared issues, organize and work together to resolve them, challenge governance and
build their own independent organizations. A key ingredient to successful community
participation as discussed by Sorensen, (2010), is to create an enduring self-governance
institution, which often requires time and resources but results in a gradual accumulation of
experience, contacts and networks. They can not only oppose to municipal decisions and projects
but actually create, research, raise funds and plan future regeneration schemes. Thus citizens can
influence regeneration policies and successfully apply the idea of a bottom-up approach to
community participation. They have the opportunity to claim their “right to the city”, where
everyone has the right to influence decisions, (Harvey, 2008). As Medici describes it, it is :”… a
collective right to all female and male inhabitants of cities, particularly those belonging to
vulnerable groups and those suffering from discrimination, to the equal use of cities within limits
of sustainability and social justice”, (2006, p.1)
Additionally, the skillset they provide from a professional one, such as basic crafts skills,
planners, managers, etc., to entrepreneurial one-innovative thinking and leadership, could lead to
solutions, created by local thought and experience. The social capital they provide in terms of
networks and trust, can be utilized in various aspects-from provision of services to local
community groups and organizations taking part in the project and aiding the development of a
project. The acknowledgement of these resources can only improve the relationship between
local authorities and the citizens and can also bring real benefits to both sides, (Boyle and Harris,
2009).
However, community involvement also has its potential challenges and disadvantages. As
Gardiner, (2007) suggests, the results of involving communities have been “modest” at best.
According to him, community participation in urban regeneration can only be at this level due to
three challenges. Firstly, involvement is usually driven by issues, it is “shallow and ephemeral”.
It is often the case when communities engage only because a certain issue attracts their attention,
therefore forgetting or ignoring wider issues which need to be considered. Hence, engagement
can be only short-term- once the programs finishes, communities could lose interest and believe
that this involvement has been sufficient for significant change, (Jones, 2003). Additionally,
Gardiner emphasizes that there will only be a core of people with longer-term interest in
regeneration leading to concentrated leadership. Often communities can be oppressive and
exclusive, thus social class barriers can be highly influential- the wider and more diverse social
networks of more advantaged groups can result in inequality, dominance and conflicts, (Kearns,
2003; Giddens, 2000). Thus the spatially concentrated groups will be strongly represented
compared to other groups resulting in a non-democratic decision-making process. This leads to
the issue of local power holders. In some cases, these could be the more advantaged
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communities, however, more often it is the government bodies and professionals that define the
rules, decide which communities are involved in and at what point. Following this, communities
may feel oppressed and underrepresented, since they do not have the informal relations nor the
terminology knowledge in the policy-making process, (Taylor, 2002; 2007). From this what
occurs is a lack of trust, feeling of marginalization and inability to influence the process which
affects their areas or services.
Secondly, Gardiner describes local views as “parochial, illiberal and ill-informed” which
is an obstacle in the facilitation of social cohesion and urban regeneration. Essentially, he
believes community engagement is highly influenced by the diversity in one neighbourhood and
mediation between different interests and communities could pose a potential problem, (Purdue
et al, 2000). Following the above mentioned statement about lack of trust, he also adds that local
attitudes and interests are usually ill-informed- they mistrust the government, have insufficient
knowledge for wider issues and fear that they will be involved in further government agendas.
On the other hand, however, Taylor, (2003), suggests that there is sometimes resistance when it
comes to community involvement in the public sector- especially coming from professionals and
local councilors. Their commitment to the participation agenda is vulnerable since it is difficult
to prove that there is evidence of improvement after participation is involved. Most of them are
not trained to work with communities and also feel threatened from a community emphasis in
policies. Thus, according to Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation, the level at which most initiatives
stay is manipulation and therapy.
Last but not least, Gardiner states that local action can only partially compensate for
wider socio-economic issues and inequalities. He adds that these government programmes that
aid participation generally inject resources in localities with serious issues and expect a trickle-
down effect to all other aspects of society. However, this can only result in a partial recovery,
since the root of the problem is not identified or dealt with appropriately.
The potential that community participation has in future urban regeneration schemes is
yet to be accomplished. However, in order to achieve this, a long process of improvements needs
to be applied. Some of those improvements include : the need to be realistic about the potential
and be aware of the wider structures and processes, which can help, maintain but also amplify
the inequalities in one society, (Gardiner, 2007); every case which will include community
participation needs to be assessed empirically, sources of funding need to be sustainable and
long-term, the empowerment needs to be modest, partial and relative to wider changes and
patterns in society that are beyond the regulation of local institutions. Additionally,
empowerment and change need to be perceived as possible by local residents and by officers and
members of the local authorities, (Bailey, 2010). Community participation has the potential to
change the system of governance in a more democratic one. But this can only be achieved once
unrealistic expectations are abandoned and promises are justified. One of the key challenges in
the next decades will be how to make most of what we have, through policies and practices that
will acknowledge and enable the committed few in a community to be agents for social change,
while at the same promoting their legitimacy among different actors in a development,
(Skidmore et al, 1999).
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As a conclusion, the first part of the essay clarified the term” community participation” as
the process of empowerment of local communities to actively engage in the redevelopment
process of their neighborhoods, and looked through the evolution of this process though the UK
history of public policy and initiatives. Following this the second section provided the key
advantages and challenges to engaging communities in this process and revealed its potential and
key improvements it needs in future governance approaches of redevelopment schemes.
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Reference List
Arnstein, S.R. (1969) A ladder of Citizen Participation, Journal of the American Institute of
Planners 35:216-224
Atkinson, R. (1999a) Discourses of partnership and empowerment in contemporary British urban
regeneration, Urban Studies 36: 59-72
Bailey, N. (2010) Understanding Community Empowerment in Urban Regeneration and
Planning in England: Putting Policy and Practice in Context, Planning Practice & Research,
Vol. 25, No. 3,pp. 317332
Boyle, D., & Harris, M. (2009) The Challenge of Co-production (London: New Economics
Foundation).
Cooke, B. & Kothari, U. (2001) Participation: The New Tyranny? (London: Zed Books)
Davidson, S. (1998) Spinning the Wheel, Planning, 14-15
ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) (2007) Localism and Local Governance, ESRC
Seminar Series: Mapping the Public Policy Landscape, Swindon: ESRC
Gardiner, J. (2007) Empty Promises, Regeneration and Renewal, 18-20
Gaventa, J. and Valderrama, C. (1999) Participation, Citizenship and Local Governance, Institute
of Development Studies
Gaventa, J. (2004) Towards participatory governance: Assessing the transformative possibilities,
in: S. Hickey & G. Mohan (Eds) Participation: From Tyranny to Transformation, pp. 2541
(London: Zed Books).
Giddens, A. (200) The Third Way and its Critics, Cambridge: Polity Press
Halper, D. (2004) Social Capital, Cambridge: Polity Press
Harvey, D. (2008) The right to the city, New Left Review, 53 pp. 2340.
Hastings, A.,McArthur,A. and McGregor,A. (1996) Less than Equal? Community Organisations
and Estate Regeneration Partnerships, Bristol: Policy Press
Healey,P., Davoudi,S., Tavsanoglu,S.,O’Toole,M. and Usher,D. (1992) Rebuilding the City:
Property-Led Urban Regeneration, London: E &FN Spon
Involve (2005) People and Participation: How to Put Citizens at the Heart of Decision-making,
Involve, date accessed 05/01/2015
http://www.involve.org.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2011/03/People-and-Participation.pdf
Jones,P. (2003) Urban regeneration’s poisoned decline: is there an impasse in ( community)
participation-based policy?, Urban Studies 40: 581-601
Jones, P. and Evans, J. (2008) Urban Regeneration in the UK, London: Sage
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Kearns, A. (2003) Social capital, regeneration and urban policy, in Imrie,R. and Raco,M. (eds.)
Urban Renaissance? New Labour, Community and Urban Policy, Bristol: Policy Press, 37-60
Laverack, G. (2006) Using a domains approach yo build community empowerment, Community
Development Journal 41 (1), pp 4-12
Medici, A. (2006) El derecho a la ciudad. Poder local, participacio´n y democracia. Paper
presened at the VIImCongreso Nacional de Sociologı´a Jurı´dica, Facultad de Ciencias Jurı´dicas
y Sociales de la UNLP in Sorensen, A. & Sagaris, L. (2010) ‘From Participation to the Right to
the City: Democratic Place Management at the Neighbourhood Scale in Comparative
Perspective’ , Planning Practice and Research, Vol.25, No.3, pp.297-316
Neighbourhood Renewal Unit (NRU) (2003) Community Participation Review, Office for
Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM)
Office for Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) (2005a) Making Connections: An Evaluation of the
Communty Participation Programmes, Urban Renewal Summary 15, London: HSMO in Tallon,
A. (2019) Urban Regeneration in the UK, London: Routledge
PIU (Performance and Innovation Unit) (2002) Social Capital: A Discussion Paper, London PIU,
Planning Practice and Research (1995) “Urban Regeneration”, Vol. 10, Issue 4/5
Purdue, D., Razzaque, K., Hambleton, R. ,Stewart,M.. et al (2000) Community Leadership in
Area Regeneration, Bristol : Policy Press
Putnam,R.D. (1993) Making Demovracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, Princeton,
NJ:Princeton University Press
Rogers, B. and Robinson, E. (2004) The Benefits of Community Engagement: A Review of the
Evidence, Active Citizenship Centre (for the Home Office)
SEU (Social Exclusion Unit) (1998) Bringing Britain Together: A National Strategy for
Neighbouthood Renewal, London: HMSO
Skidmore, P., Bounds,K. and Lownsbrough, H. (1999) Community Participation. Who benefits?
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Smith,M. and Beasley,M. (2000) Progressive Regimes, Partnerships and the Involvement of
Local Communities: A Framework for Evaluation, Public Administration, Vol.78,No4, 855-878
Sorensen, A. & Sagaris, L. (2010) From Participation to the Right to the City: Democratic Place
Management at the Neighbourhood Scale in Comparative Perspective in Planning Practice and
Research, Vol.25, No.3, pp.297-316
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Bristol: The Policy Press
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McLaughlin,K. , Osborne,S. and Ferlie,E. (eds) New Public Management: Current trends and
future Prospects, London, Routledge, 109-128
Taylor, M. (2003) Public Policy in the Community, London: Palgrave
Taylor, M. (2007) Community participation in the real world: Opportunities and pitfalls in new
governance spaces, Urban Studies, 44(2), pp.297-317
UNRISD (1996) Their choice or yours: Global forces or Local voices? Discussion Paper, No.79.
World Bank (1995), World Bank Participation Sourcebook, Environment Department Papers
Participation Series Washington D.C. World Bank.

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Student ID: 1264830 URS 306 Regenerating Urban Communities Communities can play a critical role in the regeneration of their neighburhoods. Critically examine the advantages and challenges of engaging local communities in the process. This essay will explore the role of community participation in the process of urban regeneration at a neighbourhood scale, providing brief description of the term “community participation”, summary of the background and context of how it came about to policy agenda nationally and the significance it has played in the history of renewal policies. This will be followed by a section which looks at the advantages and challenges of engaging communities in this regeneration. The final part of the essay will be discussing the potential that community participation has in the governance of our future cities and will provide a summary of the key arguments presented in the essay. The term “community participation” has been widely debated on in the fields of sociology, planning and human geography, depending on what will be the nature of the participation- social(responsibility and citizenship related to development projects in a local area) or political(activist movements and groups). Various definitions exist such as the one provided by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development : “… the organized effort to increase control over resources and regulative institutions on the parts of groups and movements hitherto excluded from such control”, (UNRISD, 2004; pp.9). Gaventa and Valderrama, (1999) interpret this definition as participation which is located outside the state and situated among the people and groups who have been excluded from the existing institutions. Another definition produced by the World Bank refers to participation where “…stakeholders influence and share the control over development initiatives and the decisions and resources which affects them”, (World Bank, 1995, pp, 2). However, in planning terms, community participation is perceived as a multifaceted process which can take many forms and scales as well as be influenced by numerous factors. Participation is the power which enables communities to take control over certain development decisions which could potentially affect their lives, homes and local areas, and also determines the willingness of individuals to work together towards a shared goal for better future of the public realm, (NRU, 2003; Rogers and Robinson, 2004). One of the most debated topics in terms of community participation, however, is the scale of participation that communities take. It has been discussed by many (Cooke and Kothari, 2001; Atkinson, 1999a; Jones and Evans, 2008) that the so-called ”empowerment” of communities actually results in unequal actors making the decision-making process rather undemocratic. Therefore, many authors have produced different kinds of categorizations of community participation, measuring the levels of involvement and control that communities are given by the state or claimed by themselves. Such categorizations include the famously debated Ladder of Participation, (Fig1.), by Arnstein (1969), which others have expanded or built upon. 1 Student ID: 1264830 Figure 1. Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation, (1969) The ladder includes three main scales of participation: Nonparticipation, Tokenism and Citizen Power. The Nonparticipation section describes an approach where community voices and opinions are manipulated or are given arena to discuss matters-“therapy”however, without having any impact on the actual decision-making process. Tokenism involves a form of consultation procedure, which informs the community of what is happening and the decisions that are being made, but not giving them the opportunity to actively participate in the discussion. Finally Citizen Power is where a community has the opportunity to actively engage and be a partner in decision-making, with the ability to influence and change the course of the development. Other examples and representations of measuring community participation include Davidson’s Wheel of Empowerment (1998), the Wheel of Involvement (Smith and Beasley, 2000), describing the spaces of involvement- The Power Cube, (Gaventa, 2004), and the Spidergram of Participation (Laverack, G., 2006). All of them represent different interpretations of community involvement. The evolution of community participation in the public policy agenda in the UK dates back to the 1960s, and back then it was discussed in relation to tackling emerging issues with deprived communities. Numerous government initiatives took place with the purpose of handling the issues of deprivation and poverty, such as the Education Priority Areas, Housing Action Areas, General Improvement Areas, national Community Development Programmes and many others, (Tallon, 2010). The main reasons for the need to address those issues of deprivation were the numerous racial tensions which emerged back then and also the discovery that the welfare 2 Student ID: 1264830 state did not solve the problem of poverty. The Skeffington report in1969 contributed to this process by emphasizing the need of more public participation in the field of planning, (ibid). According to Taylor, (2003), there were two main basis on which community participation was built on in the late 1960s. The first one suggested that the problem was rooted in communities themselves and that these communities need to be restored before “cycles of deprivation” took place- before generational deprivation occurs. This restoration process was initiated though the New Towns and slum clearance programmes. The second reason claimed that the problem is in the public services, where a lack of co-ordination existed between the fast growing local governments and the services it delivered. Other later researches suggested that community deprivation beginnings laid in wider trends such as the global economy and indeed in the late 1970s the oil crisis led to economic recession, which increased the strain on the working class. In order to cope with this, the government shifted its approach from community deprivation to creating jobs and training programmes, (Tallon, 2010). This more economic approach experienced its momentum during the Thatcher government when a market-led initiative took place. The general assumption was that economic development in poorer areas will lead to trickle-down effect to deprived communities, (Healey et al, 1992). However, this did not happen and deprived populations became displaced and bypassed by this economic development and it resulted in many left local authorities providing a field for participation to marginalized groups. By the end of 1980s, community development was happening in opposition to central government approaches. With the arrival of the Major government in 1990, the marked-led agenda decreased. There was an emphasis on consumerism and community involvement, which led to the creation of City Challenge and the Single Regeneration Budget, initiatives which demanded consultation process with communities. The time scale in which this process was expected to happen was too unrealistic, however, it brought community voice on the table and led to tenant involvement in management, which gave tenants the right to vote on having different landlords, therefore giving them an opportunity for longer-term involvement and decreased dependency, (Stewart and Taylor, 1995; Hastings et al, 1996). This shift towards community involvement was further developed by the New Labour government, with a key focus on tackling social exclusion. Community involvement became the most debated and included feature in government policies. The emphasis was to give actual power and responsibility to communities to help themselves, (SEU, 1998). Through the formation of various units such as the Active Community Unit and the Civil Renewal Unit, communities became the main actor in regeneration and renewal schemes, leading to the creation of numerous programmes- the New Deal for Communities and National Strategy for Neighborhood Renewal being two of the many, (Skidmore et al, 1999). The National Strategy led to the creation of Local Community Partnerships, which assembled all major actors at the local level to encourage their working together in order to resolve issues such as poverty, crime, education and development of the neighbourhood. They were required to develop neighbourhood renewal strategies and funding was made available to support the involvement of the voluntary and community sector in LSPs. The National Strategy had four main goals: 3 Student ID: 1264830 • • • • “Social capital: developing capacity, confidence and skills Social inclusion and cohesion: networking, cohesion and co-ordination Governance: developing an effective vice, and involving communities Service delivery: influencing public service delivery giving communities and effective voice” , (ODPM, 2005a, in Tallon, 2010, pp.144) These goals needed to be achieved alongside other trends such as modernizing local governments, creating democratic and civil renewal, and a comprehensive third sector policy, (Tallon, 2010). A key feature in achieving this in planning terms was the promotion of mixed communities, with social diversity in social housing estates which were described as experiencing multiple deprivation. The Neighbourhood Renewal policy took another turn in 2006, with a new ambition aiming at devolution- central government funding for the neighbourhood regeneration schemes is devolved to local authority levels with the localism agenda, (ESRC, 2007). Further government policies in terms of community involvement included the 2008/2009 programme for Community Empowerment, Housing and Economic Regeneration which had the purpose of delivering more opportunities for communities and individuals In 2012 the Abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies and David Cameron’s Big Society Plan were two major influences on giving more control to local authorities over planning and developments and encouraging people to take more active roles in their communities through the transfer of power from central to local government. Communities were expected to not only participate, but to be responsible for their futures. Through the evolution of community participation in public policy, it can be seen that it has played an integral part in the UK’s government agenda during the past few decades. Community inclusion in the New Labour government since 1997 has been inspired by ideas such as social capital by Robert Putnam. According to him, social capital represents networks, norms and trust in a community and it enables individual participants to work together more effectively in order to achieve a common objective, (Putnam, 1995). Social capital has been associated in many researches, (PIU, 2002; Halpern, 2004), with improved governance, health and economic growth, and decrease in crime and poverty levels and therefore it has the potential to aid in urban regeneration and the general improvement of deprived areas. New Labour shifted its agenda from social exclusion and economic development to social capital and the inclusion of communities in the decision-making process. However, Taylor, (2007), argues that this new arena for community power is still governed by the state and the only change that has occurred is shifting responsibility to lower levels of governance. The UK, alongside many other countries around the world, such as Italy, Canada and Chile, recognized that this approach to urban regeneration of integrating communities by all means contributes to better multiple social outcomes and the utilization of the local residents’ knowledge of the issues and demands of certain areas proves to be more efficient in resolving them. Through the encouragement of participation, local communities feel integrated in the development of their area and thus making it more likely for them to protect it and take care of it in the future. Involvement also contributes to the development of skills and well-informed social capital, which can result in many benefits such as decreased dependency on welfare provision, 4 Student ID: 1264830 improvement of social cohesion, shared interests and place identity, (Sorensen, 2010; Kearns, 2003; Taylor; 2002). Therefore involving communities in the regeneration of their local areas proves to have various advantages. Communities can serve as a valuable resource of information and skills. They are aware of the history, culture and identity of the place, what are the main demands and needs of the community, thus they have the ability to contribute in the needs analysis of a project brief and applications for funding, (Sorensen, 2010; Involve, 2005; Bailey; 2010). Citizens can identify shared issues, organize and work together to resolve them, challenge governance and build their own independent organizations. A key ingredient to successful community participation as discussed by Sorensen, (2010), is to create an enduring self-governance institution, which often requires time and resources but results in a gradual accumulation of experience, contacts and networks. They can not only oppose to municipal decisions and projects but actually create, research, raise funds and plan future regeneration schemes. Thus citizens can influence regeneration policies and successfully apply the idea of a bottom-up approach to community participation. They have the opportunity to claim their “right to the city”, where everyone has the right to influence decisions, (Harvey, 2008). As Medici describes it, it is :”… a collective right to all female and male inhabitants of cities, particularly those belonging to vulnerable groups and those suffering from discrimination, to the equal use of cities within limits of sustainability and social justice”, (2006, p.1) Additionally, the skillset they provide from a professional one, such as basic crafts skills, planners, managers, etc., to entrepreneurial one-innovative thinking and leadership, could lead to solutions, created by local thought and experience. The social capital they provide in terms of networks and trust, can be utilized in various aspects-from provision of services to local community groups and organizations taking part in the project and aiding the development of a project. The acknowledgement of these resources can only improve the relationship between local authorities and the citizens and can also bring real benefits to both sides, (Boyle and Harris, 2009). However, community involvement also has its potential challenges and disadvantages. As Gardiner, (2007) suggests, the results of involving communities have been “modest” at best. According to him, community participation in urban regeneration can only be at this level due to three challenges. Firstly, involvement is usually driven by issues, it is “shallow and ephemeral”. It is often the case when communities engage only because a certain issue attracts their attention, therefore forgetting or ignoring wider issues which need to be considered. Hence, engagement can be only short-term- once the programs finishes, communities could lose interest and believe that this involvement has been sufficient for significant change, (Jones, 2003). Additionally, Gardiner emphasizes that there will only be a core of people with longer-term interest in regeneration leading to concentrated leadership. Often communities can be oppressive and exclusive, thus social class barriers can be highly influential- the wider and more diverse social networks of more advantaged groups can result in inequality, dominance and conflicts, (Kearns, 2003; Giddens, 2000). Thus the spatially concentrated groups will be strongly represented compared to other groups resulting in a non-democratic decision-making process. This leads to the issue of local power holders. In some cases, these could be the more advantaged 5 Student ID: 1264830 communities, however, more often it is the government bodies and professionals that define the rules, decide which communities are involved in and at what point. Following this, communities may feel oppressed and underrepresented, since they do not have the informal relations nor the terminology knowledge in the policy-making process, (Taylor, 2002; 2007). From this what occurs is a lack of trust, feeling of marginalization and inability to influence the process which affects their areas or services. Secondly, Gardiner describes local views as “parochial, illiberal and ill-informed” which is an obstacle in the facilitation of social cohesion and urban regeneration. Essentially, he believes community engagement is highly influenced by the diversity in one neighbourhood and mediation between different interests and communities could pose a potential problem, (Purdue et al, 2000). Following the above mentioned statement about lack of trust, he also adds that local attitudes and interests are usually ill-informed- they mistrust the government, have insufficient knowledge for wider issues and fear that they will be involved in further government agendas. On the other hand, however, Taylor, (2003), suggests that there is sometimes resistance when it comes to community involvement in the public sector- especially coming from professionals and local councilors. Their commitment to the participation agenda is vulnerable since it is difficult to prove that there is evidence of improvement after participation is involved. Most of them are not trained to work with communities and also feel threatened from a community emphasis in policies. Thus, according to Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation, the level at which most initiatives stay is manipulation and therapy. Last but not least, Gardiner states that local action can only partially compensate for wider socio-economic issues and inequalities. He adds that these government programmes that aid participation generally inject resources in localities with serious issues and expect a trickledown effect to all other aspects of society. However, this can only result in a partial recovery, since the root of the problem is not identified or dealt with appropriately. The potential that community participation has in future urban regeneration schemes is yet to be accomplished. However, in order to achieve this, a long process of improvements needs to be applied. Some of those improvements include : the need to be realistic about the potential and be aware of the wider structures and processes, which can help, maintain but also amplify the inequalities in one society, (Gardiner, 2007); every case which will include community participation needs to be assessed empirically, sources of funding need to be sustainable and long-term, the empowerment needs to be modest, partial and relative to wider changes and patterns in society that are beyond the regulation of local institutions. Additionally, empowerment and change need to be perceived as possible by local residents and by officers and members of the local authorities, (Bailey, 2010). Community participation has the potential to change the system of governance in a more democratic one. But this can only be achieved once unrealistic expectations are abandoned and promises are justified. One of the key challenges in the next decades will be how to make most of what we have, through policies and practices that will acknowledge and enable the committed few in a community to be agents for social change, while at the same promoting their legitimacy among different actors in a development, (Skidmore et al, 1999). 6 Student ID: 1264830 As a conclusion, the first part of the essay clarified the term” community participation” as the process of empowerment of local communities to actively engage in the redevelopment process of their neighborhoods, and looked through the evolution of this process though the UK history of public policy and initiatives. Following this the second section provided the key advantages and challenges to engaging communities in this process and revealed its potential and key improvements it needs in future governance approaches of redevelopment schemes. 7 Student ID: 1264830 Reference List Arnstein, S.R. 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