Helen Nicol, Director of Blue Chula and Development Manager at Locality, introduces a new guide (from Local Trust and Blue Chula) on how community groups can effectively engage with and influence regeneration.
We hope that these publications will help communities to have real influence over what happens in their area, making sure that regeneration doesn’t happen to them but with them.

The problem of how communities and developers can effectively work together, is not a new one. Numerous publications share how local government and the built environment sector can work better with communities.

However, Big Local areas noticed that community groups were missing guidance that reflected their perspective and experience.

Hoping to gain from development, rather than lose out to it, many Big Local partnerships were looking for clear information on how best to influence and negotiate for the benefit of their community. They wanted to know their rights as a community, not just as individuals, and how to find a voice in regeneration programme governance. Wanting to meet this information shortfall, Local Trust commissioned Blue Chula to work with Big Local areas to better understand the issue.

Developing Potential, a guide for communities is the result of this. The publication is built around five ways that community groups can effectively engage with and influence regeneration.

  • Don’t wait for permission
  • Be credible
  • Create a movement
  • Gather resources
  • Stand your ground

These 5 principles describe ways of working that have been used by others to build trust and gain a strong voice when collaborating with developers. They are accompanied by advice and resources to help groups quickly get to grips with their role.

Through the development of this guide, it became apparent that the system and plans communities were trying to influence lacked the capacity or willingness to meaningfully include them in their plans.  As a result, two further publications were produced, which have also been launched this week:

Developing Potential: lessons from community experiences of regeneration, offers recommendations for central government, local authorities, housing associations and other organisations that typically lead developments, to help ensure that communities are effectively involved in the regeneration process, to the benefit of both local residents and those designing and delivering future regeneration schemes.

Both documents are accompanied by Big Local experiences of regeneration and development which details the experience of communities – the context, challenges and possibilities of the 5 Big Local areas who worked with Blue Chula.

SO18 Big Local in Southampton. Photo credit - Benjamin Nwaneampeh

SO18 Big Local in Southampton. Photo credit – Benjamin Nwaneampeh

We hope that these publications will help communities to have real influence over what happens in their area, making sure that regeneration doesn’t happen to them but with them.

Take a look at the guide and the accompanying research report at bit.ly/DevelopingPotential

If you would like to understand more about Local Trust’s work to support communities to engage with development, please contact Georgie.burr@localtrust.org.uk