DECADE: Community-led regeneration – Letting people lead

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In 2015 A&DS celebrated 10 years and following a series of 10 events on 10 key topics a publication of reflections was published at the end on 2015. Throughout 2016 – the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design – we will -re-publish extracts from the publication on each topic. This extract covers the topic of community-led regeneration, under the heading Letting People Lead

The global economic crisis of the late noughties caused a major recession, the bail out of the country’s top banks and a significant reduction in public expenditure to reduce the national debt. Consequently, there has been a marked move away from physical regeneration driven by public funding.

Perhaps due to the loss of confidence in major institutions, a distinctly more people-based approach to regeneration has been developing. Genuinely community-led, it seeks to address physical, social and economic change, inequality and general wellbeing. And with its strong and growing commitment to community empowerment across the whole of Scotland, the Scottish Government has set the framework for this approach.

The community right-to-buy is transforming some of our rural communities, and the extension of this to our urban areas is requiring cultural change and trust by all layers of government.

This game-changing approach in how we deliver regeneration will encounter challenges, successes and some failures along the way. There will undoubtedly be a huge commitment and a growing enthusiasm from communities to engage. However, we must take care to match aspirations and expectations with timescales, the availability of resources and the requirement for good governance. We will also need to share good practice, and integrate and realign resources, to ensure added value.

There is no doubt that community-led regeneration is here to stay and that it will flourish both in the number of projects and their scope. Allowing local people, including our young and old, to participate and to lead their communities will increase their confidence, develop their skills and produce better places and outcomes.

The professionals will provide expertise and assist in facilitating and delivering options for implementation. The key messages being flexibility in approach, a readiness to adopt measured risk-taking and a desire to build on a community-led ‘can do’ culture.

The enthusiasm, commitment and intent are there. The message is … go for it!

Alan Sim, Board Member, A&DS

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