Regenerating Urban Neighbourhoods
The research aims to improve understanding of the politics and processes of neighbourhood-based initiatives for the regeneration of urban areas. Britain has been a pioneer of cross-sectoral initiatives that involve special funding and new neighbourhood-level structures. There is a lot of experience, but also much controversy - on community involvement, the role of business, cross-service working, mainstreaming, sustainability and so on. In other parts of the world, neighbourhood regeneration initiatives are not as well established, or have taken different forms from those in Britain.
This research is not concerned with explaining the underlying causes of neighbourhood distress or with evaluating the impact of policy initiatives. It focuses on how and why certain policy choices are made and acted on in different contexts. Why is a neighbourhood approach selected over other possible interventions? How does neighbourhood working fit with other aspects of city politics and governance? What mechanisms have been put in place? And what factors shape prospects for neighbourhood regeneration on the ground?
The project provides important opportunities for international learning between cities, and for showcasing good practice. The project also highlights the role of global factors in neighbourhood regeneration – links between migrant communities, business investment decisions, environmental protocols, and so on. The project is being carried out by an international network of researchers. Researchers will use a common framework to carry out an in-depth investigation of neighbourhood working in seventeen cities across Europe and North America.
In Britain, the case studies of neighbourhood working are Manchester and Leicester. The fieldwork for these sites was completed in the first half of 2008. The research has focused on how neighbourhood regeneration sits within the broader politics of the city, and at the role of regional offices, central government and the EU. In each city, case studies of two specific neighbourhoods were undertaken with a view to contrasting different approaches to neighbourhood regeneration (e.g. neighbourhood management pathfinders and New Deal for Communities). The research involved interviewing key people at neighbourhood and city level, analysing documents and observing neighbourhood meetings and activities.
The empirical case study work outlined has been the basis for a number of conference papers at prestigious international conferences including the Urban Affairs Association Annual Conference in 2008, the American Political Science Association Conference in 2008 and the European Consortium of Political Research Bi-Annual Meeting in 2009. Catherine Durose and Vivien Lowndes have co-authored a forthcoming article in 2010 in Local Government Studies on the Manchester case study. The Local Governance Research Unit will be hosting a workshop for the European city teams along with the project convenor, Professor Clarence Stone, in April 2010 to develop further plans to comparative outputs.
Dr Catherine Durose
Professor Peter John, Institute for Political and Economic Governance, University of Manchester
Professor Clarence Stone, University of Maryland (project convenor)