Co-operative place-making in Rochdale

Rochdale Pionners Museum

Guest article by Cécile Berranger

With growing concern about global inequality, there has been an international resurgence of co-operative and community-focused projects and initiatives. The UK, however, offers a particularly interesting context.  Subject to prolonged austerity measures, the capacity of local government to intervene in local development has been drastically undermined. With growing inequality and a pressing need to fill the gaps in under-served communities, local authorities in many places are beginning to abandon their paternalistic top-down approach, and to experiment with new and alternative organisational forms of place management.

Increasingly Business Improvement Districts are taking over responsibility for town and city management, with over 300 now established. There are 471,000 social enterprises across the country, employing 1.44 million people[1], and a network of 26 designated social enterprise places[2], whereas Scotland is advocating Community Improvement Districts[3].  Most celebrated, perhaps, is The Preston Model[4], developed by Preston City Council and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), which has reformed local government procurement to enable key locally embedded “anchor” institutions to run local services. The model is designed to recapture investment and circulate local wealth within the local economy. Where gaps in provision remain, CLES suggests the formation of new worker co-operatives.

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The problem with participation in urban development

Participation process in Berlin-Wedding with Ares Kalandides

by Ares Kalandides

I recently had the opportunity to coordinate two workshops that included participation in urban development one in the town of Agios Nikolaos (Crete, Greece) and only a week later in the district of Wedding in Berlin, Germany. The details were indeed rather different, but the basic idea very much the same. In Crete the goal was to think about the town’s identity and to formulate some visions for its future. In Berlin it was about the future of the place: “What do we imagine our neighbourhood to be in 2020”. Both workshops were thoroughly enjoyable, as I always find working with people on the future of their places a very rewarding process. Continue reading “The problem with participation in urban development”