The regeneration of Salford, 2000 to presentEnsuring a better future for all
A number of public sector bodies, Central Salford, Transform IN Salford and Salford City Council, have been working together to deliver a programme of regeneration that will see widespread redevelopment of the city and bring new opportunities to the residents already living there.
- Intensive approach to reshaping public service delivery
- Making the most of voluntary and community groups
- Careful management of the demolition of existing homes
Since the turn of the millennium Salford has seen some dramatic developments along its waterfront. The Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry Centre have already been built. Mediacity:uk is currently under construction and when complete will be a large-scale broadcasting and communications centre and the new home of the BBC.
Alongside this development in the city centre, many of Salford's residential neighbourhoods have been undergoing a process of regeneration. Broughton, Seedley and Langworthy, Kersal, and some parts of the Weaste and Claremont wards are included in the Manchester Salford Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder Partnership which is working to support the local housing market. In some areas existing homes have already been demolished and new homes of a higher quality are being built in their place.
Ensuring the benefits for local people
Potentially, these new developments spell an exciting future for Salford, bringing new investment, businesses and people into the area. Around 30,000 new jobs are expected to be created in the city over the next 15 years. Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company (URC), a partnership between Salford City Council, the North West Development Agency and English Partnerships, is conscious of the need to ensure that local people feel the benefits of these changes, not just when they travel into the centre of town but also in their own neighbourhoods. Central Salford has developed a number of strategies to deliver these aims, including:
- developing the 'Spotlight' approach to exploring and alleviating social deprivation in particular neighbourhoods
- supporting the work of local community and voluntary groups
careful management of the regeneration programme.
The Spotlight initiative has been designed by various agencies involved in Partners IN Salford, the city's Local Strategic Partnership (LSP), in recognition that the existing community needs new economic and social opportunities alongside the physical regeneration of the area. The initiative provides an incentive for staff to work together with colleagues in other public sector agencies and the community sector to coordinate mainstream service delivery, rather than designing additional or top-up regeneration projects.
The initiative has now been on trial in four of Salford's neighbourhoods, each exploring a specific issue over a clearly defined six week period:
- Charlestown and Lower Kersal: young people not in education, employment or training
- Ordsall and Langworthy: safe, clean and green
- East Salford: worklessness
Little Hulton: lone parents
Over the course of six weeks, a team of staff from various public agencies come together to examine a particular issue affecting each neighbourhood. In the first week they look at who needs to work on the Spotlight issue, how the team will explore the problem and what the initiative should aim for. This is followed by two weeks of intensive research, working with local residents to understand the problem and what causes it. Once this has been completed the team then looks at how the current public service response is framed. The team will also explore new ways for the public agencies involved to work together which may help deliver greater support to residents. At the end of the process those at a senior level make a commitment to try a new approach. At the end of the six-week process partners agree to come together at regular intervals into the future to check their progress.
- Week 1: outlining the business case, the team involved and the methods to be used
- Weeks 2 - 3: analysing the causes and effects of the issue, for families, individuals and places
- Weeks 3 - 4: analysing the service delivery chain, delivery structures and incentives
- Weeks 5 - 6: making a commitment (at a senior level) to change
- Week 6: short-term ‘quick wins' and mid and longer term reforms
- onwards bi-monthly: regular checks on progress
Each of the four completed Spotlight trials have been taken forward by a team of three city council staff, know as 'Transform Trios'. Each team consists of two part-time and one full-time member of staff, who have all undergone a Transform IN Salford personal development training programme. There is one extra Transform Trio that works on issues that cut across all four of the trial neighbourhoods. The continuing presence of these teams will help to ensure that Spotlight's single issue focus is maintained and result in improved outcomes for residents in the longer term.
Accountability to residents
The Spotlight initiative works closely with local people to gain a clearer understanding of how some social issues arise and how they affect residents. Once the initiative is finished at the end of the six weeks, feedback is given to residents both by publishing a 'dashboard' of local indicators, which aim to explain simply how much progress has and is being made against a set of criteria. More formal feedback is given to 'Community Committees' composed of local residents, at the bimonthly progress meetings.
One of the key barriers to improving public service delivery identified by Salford's LSP and the Central Salford URC, is the difficulty local voluntary and community groups can face in accessing the service delivery system. In some cases these groups have developed excellence in providing particular services to the community, whether it be skills training, childcare provision or youth services. This excellence is not always acknowledged by the local authority, who could work in partnership with them to provide services carefully tailored to the local community. This in turn can cause problems for the community groups themselves, who are unable to secure the long-term funding that would allow them to develop their work.
Central Salford URC has been working in close cooperation with a number of community groups in the city. One, the Seedley and Langworthy Trust (SALT), has been a partner organisation for the local authority and other agencies in delivering a number of schemes: alley gating local streets, recycling mobile phones and printer cartridges, and running training schemes for local people. SALT has created a charitable subsidiary, the Social Research and Development Project, to undertake community research and consultation and to train other voluntary groups to do the same. This project has been working with Central Salford on the Spotlight initiative, using their expertise to help develop a better understanding of the issues affecting Salford's neighbourhoods.
Managing the process of regeneration
For the past five years the Manchester Salford Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder Partnership has been working in several residential neighbourhoods in Salford to stabilise the local housing market. A lack of tenure choice and poor quality housing had led to a collapse in demand. New householders had either chosen not to move into the area or had been unable to find affordable houses for sale.
By mid-2008 many stretches of traditional terraced housing had been knocked down and some of the new homes are taking shape. Learning from experience the partners of Transform IN Salford and Central Salford have recognised the importance of careful management of the process of redevelopment. During one of the initial phases of demolition the area was overrun by thousands of rats that poured out of the sewers once the houses overhead had been knocked down, taking the regeneration team by surprise. Now when houses are demolished they expect this to happen and include pest control in the demolition plans. In some cases lessons can only be learnt through experience as all projects will have unexpected consequences. The partners involved in Salford's regeneration have been quick to adapt the management of their regeneration programme.
Building success in Salford
- Salford is now home to a number of high profile cultural and media-based institutions that will deliver new jobs and opportunities in the city. The organisations overseeing this process of regeneration have been conscious of the need to ensure that these changes don't only benefit new residents who will move into the area but will help improve the lives of people already living in Salford
- the Spotlight approach to restructuring public service delivery goes far beyond a 'sticking plaster' for the issues affecting particular local neighbourhoods. It seeks to understand why those issues have arisen and acknowledges that public agencies could work more effectively together in their efforts to tackle them
- voluntary and community groups in Salford have worked in deprived neighbourhoods on a number of initiatives for a long time, and have developed their own expertise in these fields. By including them as partners in the regeneration of Salford, public agencies are able to make the most of what they have to offer
the process of the regeneration of Salford has thrown up some surprises along the way. Central Salford and the local authority have been able to learn from these and improve their management of the demolition of old homes and the creation of new ones.
Too soon to tell?
- Much of the building work in Salford holds great promise for residents, both in terms of good quality new homes and jobs in the area. If these hopes are to materialise, people living in Salford's deprived communities will have to be able to access the support they need to develop their skills and take up these new opportunities. It is too soon to judge if the Spotlight approach will be able, in such a short space of time, to identify the causes of these ingrained issues and find a better way of delivering public services.
Transferable lessons for new communities
New communities might not directly mirror Salford's situation, and certainly won't be saddled with the same stock of poor quality homes and high social deprivation that affect some of the city's neighbourhoods. However Salford's intensive approach to investigating social problems and to finding ways for the public and voluntary sector to work together to tackle them could be useful for any community.
All neighbourhoods will have periods where they are affected by a particular problem. The local authority and other agencies might not choose to follow Salford's Spotlight approach exactly, but would certainly benefit from making a concerted effort to understand the cause of the problem and look at how best to tackle it together.
Many new communities will have charitable long-term stewardship organisations, some of which may be entirely managed by local people. These groups may have the capacity to offer many tailored services to the community. The local authority can support these groups to develop their expertise by delivering services in partnership with them where appropriate.
Building large-scale projects is a complex operation and there will always be unexpected consequences. The teams that oversee the work will need to be vigilant to these and adapt to them to avoid as much disruption to local people as possible.
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