Woughton Estate Regeneration
The Community Council began its neighbourhood plan project in 2015 with the aim of shaping the estate regeneration proposals emerging from the local authority. Four estates in its area had been included in a 15 year programme to tackle the aging housing stock with an emphasis on redevelopment rather than renewal. The local communities, among the poorest and most transient in the city, were not surprisingly concerned of the effects of the programme and their lives.
We were appointed to help the Council devise a plan to provide a framework within which a wide range of regeneration proposals, not just redevelopment, could be successfully managed to minimise the potential for harm and blight on the community. With very little precedent for neighbourhood plans working to this brief (then and still now) we devised an approach to enable the communities to draw their most important ‘lines in the sand’ in terms of land use change, open space needs, design principles and programme phasing. The local authority was unenthusiastic, as it didn’t want its regeneration hands tied in such a way.
The Council worked hard to engage each of the estate communities (including using tools like the online engagement platform, Commonplace) and we were able to translate those ‘lines’ into a set of innovative spatial and delivery planning policies. Crucially, we avoided having to make specific proposals (requiring considerable evidence) and having to predict what the eventual regeneration proposals would look like. In recommending the plan should go to referendum the examiner specially commended the Council on its efforts. The plan passed the referendum in 2017 but the regeneration programme has since been dropped in favour of a more ‘bottom-up’ approach to tackling the issues.
"The Community Council has spent considerable time and energy in identifying the issues and objectives that it wishes to be included in the Plan. This gets to the heart of the localism agenda. The Plan is commendable to the extent that it proposes land use policies."
Indepentent examiner for the Woughton Neighbourhood Plan