National Regeneration Convention explores community power

More than 450 people filled the University of Loughborough last month to take part in the National Regeneration Convention.

Now in its eighth year, it is becoming the most accomplished national event for those involved in local and community regeneration. Community activists and representatives joined housing association staff, policy-makers, politicians and planners to explore, network, reflect and learn.

With the title "People, Power and Poverty - The Role of Communities in Shaping Places", the convention showcased good practice and experience from around the UK. The main themes of place, power, deprivation and cohesion reflected enormous developments in the practice of neighbourhood renewal in different regions. It was gratifying to see the key role planning was given under all four themes.

As a plenary speaker on place, for example, Architecture and Design Scotland chairman Raymond Young urged the profession to reclaim the central, visionary role it used to have in driving regeneration in local government. Joseph Rowntree Foundation director Julia Unwin called for a refocusing of planning away from a system perceived to be based on objection towards a more positive approach. Meanwhile, Leicester Regeneration Company chief executive John Nicholls, a planner by background, made the case for an end to the false distinctions between economic, physical and community regeneration, suggesting that these are simply different aspects of the same idea.

The plenary sessions were complemented by a variety of workshops and masterclasses, with topics including the role of public art in civic and cultural identity, tackling racism, engaging Gypsy and traveller communities, place-shaping in city centres, creating sustainable places, local development frameworks and strategic partnerships and making communities central to the housing and regeneration agenda.

Next year, the convention is likely to take place in Scotland for the first time. If you have thoughts about what you would like to see there, please contact (email)

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