Choosing a stewardship approach
Planning for the long-term management or 'stewardship' of an area has been found to contribute significantly to the popularity and success of new communities in the past. The sort of stewardship required in an area will vary depending on the nature of the community, and should be considered at the earliest stages in planning for the community.
The most appropriate stewardship option will be one that works with the grain of any existing governance structures or neighbourhood-level initiatives in the area.
See: Castle Vale
New settlements must be built with a strategy to ensure that future stewardship will be funded and be accountable to avoid decline and stigmatisation.
Where stigmatisation does occur, public agencies and service providers must respond quickly to stabilise the problem and do what they can to prove that negative connotations are not deserved.
See: Castle Vale
- When are you going to start planning for long-term stewardship of the place?
- What mechanisms are you going to use to embed long-term stewardship at the planning stage - rather than treating it as an afterthought?
- How are you going to decide what sort of activities the stewardship vehicle should undertake?
- How are you going to decide what sort of management model is good for a community that doesn't yet exist, including its membership arrangements and governance structure?
- Where there is an existing community, what sort of steer will you be looking for from them?
- How can you build in flexibility so that stewardship can change and evolve?
- What will you look for in the leadership of a stewardship organisation?
- How are you going to ensure the stewardship approach remains relevant to and involves local people in the long term?
- How can you develop community capacity and support residents to be more involved?
- How can you plan for financial viability of the stewardship vehicle in the long term?
Stewardship is the process of managing and nurturing communities in the long term and typically involves a number of different activities that may change over time. It is a particularly important part of the picture for new communities because they need focused attention to help them to quickly develop an identity and energy. Many different types of stewardship bodies have been used in previous settlements and these may work well for new communities.
Different types of stewardship organisation will have different core management activities. For example a model like the Parks Trusts in Milton Keynes is designed to effectively maintain parks and public spaces. However, as this organisation grew and developed its revenue streams it was able to branch out into new forms of service delivery designed to meet community needs. The Parks Trust has recently started education programmes for local young people to learn more about their environment.
Local authorities have the overall responsibility for maintaining public space and service provision to all communities. However, they are responsible for managing large geographical areas, and local stakeholders may want to adopt an approach that can focus more closely on their particular community. The decision to adopt an alternative model to local authority provision will need to involve a range of development stakeholders, including the local authority.
The most effective stewardship approaches will combine effective management of assets, to ensure they remain able to provide an income into the future, and which have a strong connection to the local community. Residents will have the greatest insight into the needs of the community and effective engagement with them from the start of the development of new places can guide a responsive stewardship organisation in providing the most appropriate services in the right way to improve local people's quality of life.