I’m in a discussion looking at the Diversity of Place line of enquiry in room 4.
The framing question to attendees:
What are the underlying reasons why some neighbourhoods are more successful, connected and socially included than others, and what do we need to do to achieve positive change for the areas that need it?
Take three different neighbourhoods in Birmingham that have taken three different approaches to improving the area: Castle Vale, Attwood Green, Balsall Heath.
Castle Vale had a stigma attached to it; a white, working class social housing estate. £100m invested. Look at the way the redevelopment has been managed. They completely transformed the social housing stock and codesigned the area with employers, residents and businesses. It’s now an attractive place to live.
One view on what made Castle Vale work – Castle Vale made their own housing action trust (HAT) [added 17/03/2012: succeeded by the community housing association] and Sainsbury’s were involved too.
Very different approach, which was effectively gentrification. Moving the poor people out, reinventing it and selling the area to new people arriving.
Balsall Heath has continually reinvented itself. The area has not had the money invested that Castle Vale has but is thriving, successful and an interesting, vibrant neighbourhood.
When we do come into an area to redevelop it, we make promises about changing the residents’ life and values. We don’t always do the right thing to encourage those people back into the area after the area is redeveloped.
Problems mentioned specific to areas with poverty: how do you get people to use the services offered when there is investment in poorer areas? Discussion about an example in Kingstanding – the geography of the place affected whether young people would cross one side of Kingstanding where they live to the other side where the service is offered.
Prized modern developments in the city can be irrelevant to people living in neighbourhoods with high poverty, such as the architectural wonder of the new central library or High Speed 2.