- Miscellaneous Microgeography Essay, Research Paper
INTRODUCTIONHuman Geography is concerned with the global impact of humans on the built environment, through the influence of economic and social policies on the issues of fundamental significance in both developed and industrialised countries. “Three human needs – food, clothing and shelter – are so fundamental that our lives cannot continue without them” (WARD, 1985)As this quotation accurately denotes, shelter is a fundamental element to ensure a good quality of life, and therefore its distribution and controlling mechanisms lie at the very core of a welfare society. All cities are made up of large quantities of residential areas, and the impact of the society within it upon the area itself is extremely interesting and diverse. In order for estates to progress positively in order to provide residents with what they need and want, some form of community empowerment must be established to keep the progress sustainable. One such issue of which this dissertation attempts to demonstrate is the importance of community empowerment within areas of regeneration in globalised cities. This is relevant because it is a way of looking at human geography in a very localised context, but with significant global implications through the analysis of the impact of a community on the environment surrounding it. This brings up debate about Microgeography also. Microgeography being the detailed study of geographic patters at the level of sub-areas and small scale regions, with the emphasis being on the individual as related to the environment and the social, cultural and economic workings of the group.Over the past thirty years there has been a radical shift in the political and ideological context of the administration of participation and empowerment. Urban policy has developed radically through changing governments. This re-direction in urban policy has had significant implications for the progression of regeneration initiatives and has focussed predominantly upon empowerment to communities for sustainability and support.Cities are places where people work, live, and socialise. Large numbers of people with various backgrounds, religions, nationalities and styles come together and create a highly diverse social structure. Cities are the most dynamic places, now for service and residential developments. Now being in a post – Fordist era, developed away from Industrialisation, cities have become inter-competing and increasingly affected by processes of globalisation, gentrification and urbanisation.This dissertation attempts to contribute to the existing information in regard to community empowerment within global cities in the context of urban policy. It will focus predominantly upon the relationship between community empowerment to regeneration in ‘global cities’.The urban policy field has seen the implementation of government strategies such as City Challenge as an advantage to involving urban communities, and benefiting them through participation schemes for the Single Regeneration Budget. (SRB)There have been significant changes in the structure of local and central government, and further changes in the number of private and public partnerships established. Through these changes, consequently, shifts are now taking place within both public and urban policy, which will have significant implications for local communities.The 1988 Housing Act for example encouraged tenants to establish their own management schemes. The governments voice in regard to community empowerment is confusing however, as it urges the community to solve its own problems, through City Challenge initiatives, but under their supervision, therefore allowing development but of a controlled manner.The government urges empowerment and individualism for communities but deters collective action and collective provision for services. (DCC: 1994)The government is very contradictory in regard to the voluntary sector, wanting it to be used as an ‘outlet’, but not wanting it to utilise private sector initiatives.In this case then, where are the policies going in order to improve this situation? In today’s increasingly global city, empowerment for communities needs to be under appropriate legislation. Is the existing legislation empowering communities already or is power just being re-directed away from local authorities into managed partnerships set up through City Challenge, SRB, and Housing Action Trusts?The re-direction of power away from local authorities towards agencies more sympathetic to social and economic concerns of the government, could be understood to be an attempt to privatise public policy and keep powers within governmental hands. According to the Docklands Consultative Committee, there has been a two level distribution of power, as two forms of governance have been created. One being with real power with the state, and the other minor powers with local communities.Local people involved in the implementation of local services, management agreements, co-ordination of local facilities etc. is a good form of empowerment, allowing people to have a voice. There are no guidelines however, to say exactly how a community can become empowered.The aim of this dissertation is to explore the reality of empowerment in global cities within today’s urban policy, and examine the implications in the community of the City Challenge scheme, plus the partnership with the local authority, all in close reference to a case study of The Colville Project, a regeneration project based I Kensington in London.This dissertation attempts, through the case study of the Colville Project, to inform the particularly broad issue of globalisation, gentrification and subsequent polarisation, and assess the regeneration and empowerment of communities within global cities. This case study is a good one, because it is within a global city, is one within a process of gentrification and regeneration and therefore has assessment potential for existing policies and current implementation strategies. I shall begin by exploring issue and theories in regard to global cities, the process of globalisation and then explain the connections to urban policy for successful community empowerment. CHAPTER ONEGLOBAL ISSUES AND LOCAL PROBLEMSNeighbourhoods and communities within urban areas are places where people come together to work, learn, trade, integrate socially and fundamentally get o with life. They continue to be extremely diverse, dynamic and interesting places. There is a broadening international competition in regions and particularly in cities in order to attract inward investment, employment, environmental improvements and cultural hybrids, and in tern with population expansions, the demand for amenity and resources is increasingly heightened, resulting in a society of intense and interesting diversification.Globalisation is, therefore giving rise to more global cities of international awareness through international companies and businesses. It is not however giving rise to globalised forms of government for global living. Origionally, globalisation stemmed from the processes of sustainable development from the Local Agenda 21, which encourages people to ‘think global’ but ‘act local’. The implementation of globalisation is now through community projects, town halls and more local based strategies, bring awareness of global issues but at a realistic local level.From recent economic changes, there would appear to be a new trend in social concerns of which are very locally based. These social concerns have even stemmed from large business corporations who acknowledge that local issues are paramount such as the strength of community in the larger scale strength of regions and cities.In this case governmental policy has emerged in the form of a Social Exclusion Unit and we are to have a process of devolution in Scotland , Wales and possibly Northern Ireland whereas London will have a Mayor. (Lemos1992).Policies of all varieties to the institutional structures and governmental processes have to reflect changes of the process and development to paradoxical changes in Globalisation.Globalisation is represented as a force, which is shaping the contemporary world. “Globalisation draws more and more of the globe into one single world” (Allen/Massey 1995)We are living in very interesting time, things are moving and developing all the time. Now, being in a post-Fordist era, after developing away from Industrialisation, cities are no longer for industry, but for residential developments and service, a means of serving the communities whom inhabit it.Other factors affecting contemporary global cities include industrial restructuring, more mobile capital investment, new technology and global labour. This is reflected I the labour through environmental pollution, reductions in space for certain people, enclosure i.e. some space for private use only; globalisation allows some people to benefit, some do not, (issues of polarisation and segregation are relevant here), an invisible line of demarcation, and expectations of certain places. The benefits are interesting. The rich get richer, but the poor get poorer, increasing social divides, and even breaking down social structures through cultural divisions and polarisation.Polarisation is defined as being the tendency for uneven regional development. It is often increased by a process of circular and cumulative causation.Micro-geography is the detailed study of geographic patterns at the small scale local level, with the emphasis being on the individual and small group, like community behaviours related to the local environment and the social, cultural and economic workings are outlined in depth. The way small scale regions link to the wider economy is very different, so focussing upon globalisation, being a fundamental input into the style and pattern of cities, through micro-geography is important here.London is a global city. It has something new, suggesting it has key controlling points for the new global economy. Many parts of London, including the area around Colville, being Kensington, has been in a process of gentrification also. This is caused by an economic process, of institutional agents sculpting the landscape to encourage investment accompanied by a middle class culture, and a social process caused by sovereignity in the land and housing markets, an expression of changing consumption choices.Gentrification is the process of operating in the residential field, rehabilitating homes inhabited by working class residents and transforming them into more middle class areas. However it is a lot more than just middle class people moving into an area, it is not unique to a place. It is just part of normal land market economics and housing. Gentrification is therefore just one part of spatial restructuring and economic improvements. Organisations working together make for a calculated built environmental process. The community will not always benefit though as sometimes genrifying the area will make the social structure even further fragmented.Other processes of urban governance and urban policy relevant here is decentralisation and deindustrialisation. Decentralisation is the movement of people, jobs and activities from core places to more suburban areas. It is an attempt at spatial relocation within urban areas for increased space. Deindustrialisation is the ‘cumulative weakening of the contribution of manufacturing industry to the national economy’ (Goodhall1987).London has moved away from being an industrial city into a more globally diverse group of varying communities and social groups. People are moving to where they want to be or are trying to make the most out of what assets already exist.Communities have there own open spaces, schools, meeting places, services and amenities which are al gradually adjusting to global developments around them. International businesses and global companies are common in local economics, black and ethnic minority groups, language in the form of providing leaflets and information not only in English, religion in the form of places of worship etc. Everywhere, particularly in London on every street there is some form or another of a social and cultural diversification.The community is therefore a globally influenced place but with plenty of local problems that need to be solved at a local level.In the next chapter I shall attempt to demonstrate how urban policy has through differing governments attempted to solve local problems through regeneration initiatives. CHAPTER TWOTHE COMMUNITY AND URBAN POLICYUrban policy began in the 1960s when the level of social and economic problems in urban areas prompted a new strategy for unhealthy non-developing inner cities. Unemployment was rising and so was the population. In order to solve the problem, an Urban Government Act established in 1966 as an attempt to raise funding for areas of high unemployment and immigration.There were two main phases of development for this, starting with the Experimentation stage, using a strategy of Urban Pathological Thesis during 1965 and 1976. It was based upon the problems of inner city housing estates and the failure to escape poverty. Specific sections of society were identified most in need for priority attention and action. The emphasis being on promoting communities which were self reliant and identifying areas in need of strategic reinforcement.The second phase was the move on from a series of experimentations, to more initiative going into practice to establish the beginning of urban entrepreneurialism and inter-urban competition and partnership arrangements. Urban policy witnessed a major shift in 1976, by a realisation of restraints with focussing upon specific areas of deprivation.Community Development projects revealed policies to be not specific enough to one deprived area. Policies needed to be wider scale so the solutions could be wider scale. They called for policies to target much larger areas, if not whole local authorities experiencing high levels of deprivation.Furthermore, there was a transition from the first phase of urban policy initiatives for urban problems. The focus had developed into being for economic resolutions, through monitoring levels of unemployment and it’s relationship to deprivation. (DCC:1994)Therefore, the second phase of urban policy had developed into looking at the economic base of deprived areas, and using the analysis to improve job prospects and opportunities. The Department of the Environment became increasingly involved in transferring responsibilities away from the Home Office. The DoE held a much stronger level of commitment, to such policies, making them more comprehensive, structured and co-ordinated.A White Paper in 1977 called ‘A policy for Inner Cities’ produced by the government, placed a huge emphasis on urban problems and declared that; “local authorities are the natural agencies to tackle inner area problems”This white paper encouraged the concept of partnership arrangements in order to implement urban projects with local authorities as manageing agents to deliver structured programmes.It stated;1. Place an emphasis on strengthening the local economy2. Making the local physical and environment more attractive3. Implement initiatives to diminish social problems4. Create relationships of balance between local communities and the global cityThis second phase appeared to be a more structured attempt to arrest the decline of inner cities. The urban policy would now attempt to restore confidence in the community of the social and economic situation, by making sustainable plans for developments and growth.However, by the elections of 1979, according to the same DCC report that these policies had not proved to be a successful as hoped, and there was no sign of any considerable change. This was due to the larger scale economic problems that funding and resources dominated. The election of 1979 brought in the Conservative government and with it a restructuring of solutions to the continuous city problems.This phase of urban policy consisted of two strategic administrations that were implemented in the 1980s. The first was to reduce public expenditure and state intervention, and secondly, to promote the growth of the private sector.The role of local authorities in urban policy for community empowerment was significantly diminishing. This was predominantly due to reforms in administrative, financial and political procedures.Urban Development Corporations were now the new leaders in the governments approach through land acquisitions, to pursue economic and property developments improvements. The 1980s saw a considerable review of holistic initiatives to such urban problems, implementing Urban Development Grants and Enterprise Zones.These regeneration initiatives referred to as ‘the initiatives of the 1980s’ (Hambleton/Thomas1994) came about after a period of uncertainty through this period, when ministers had to announce their recommitment to the inner city policy.It is worth acknowledging here however, that two strands of action were emerging at this stage of urban policy development. (Stewart 1987)One was a continuity and ‘amalgamation’ through strategic partnerships arrangements, but on the other hand, was the diversification of policy initiatives which according to Stewart had become increasingly fragmented.Urban policy according to the DCC report in 1994, has done little in involving local people who live and work within those areas. The 1980s reforms of urban policy acknowledged three main facets:1 Tenant Participation2 Promoting broad based partnerships to tackle urban decline3 Implement social programmes with physical urban regeneration.In 1991 City Challenge was established. ‘Based on competitive bidding principles, City Challenge was aimed directly at challenging the practices of local authorities and other such agencies in the various localities involving a shift away from urban managerialism towards a more entrepreneurial form of governance, and a re-direction of policy towards encouraging competitive business localities’(DoE p.2 1990) City Challenge and SRB reveal perhaps the most expressive policy changes, moving significantly away from the Thatcher phase of policy into three main initiatives:1 Strike a balance between social issues in an area and physical property development2 Mixture of private, public and voluntary interests to ensure mixed co-ordinated approaches to city problems3 Leadership roles to local authorities to provide a valuable lesson for the involvement of communities in regeneration to give rise to empowerment and pride.Most recently is the establishment of the New Deal for Communities, the key new project of today’s Labour government. The New Deal will bring communities together to agree on what is really needed and implement it. The New Deal has to be seen in the governments national strategy for neighbourhood renewal, as outlined in the ‘Bringing Britain Together’ white paper, published in September 1998. The white paper is broken up into eighteen inter-departmental groups to improve policy co-ordination. The development work will come together at the end of 1999 as a national strategy focussing on the two main initiatives: Community empowerment and local partnerships.In this next chapter I shall be movingon to explain the concept of the community. CHAPTER THREE THE COMMUNITYThe concept of community means different to different people. It is an all-embracing concept, as it suggests and indeed does bring people together in common relationships, administered by cultural connections, work, facilities such as child minders or schools. Interaction from clubs, pubs or support groups, and even by social facets such as gender and race are also to be considered.As expressed in a report by the Barrow Cadbury Fund (1994), the relationships within a community take place within a social context which relates to an individuals senes of place. This may be a street or cul-de sac or may even be a whole town.The concept of community empowerment is used in many different frameworks. The most applicable (in the case of Colville) in when ‘community refers to place’ (Lemos, 1992). It refers to people who live in a place and to the peple who have some connections between them by reason of living there. However as Lemos (1992) argues, neighbourhoods are no longer communities. Neighbours are more often strangers. People are dispered sometimes globally, in making the social networks of a community spread over huge geographical distances. In this case, it is the children and multi-generational families as a powerful key to stability of residents which makes for identity within a community.The community is defined as being “a group of interacting persons occupying and sharing a limited territorial space for residence and for work which functions to meet common needs generated in sharing this space and establishes characteristic forms of social interaction, underpinned by shared values” (Penguin Dictionary of human Geography) Many would agree with the importance of a sense of community as an attempt to arrest economic and social problems within urban areas. It is furthermore the local residents within these communities who hold the power to their future, and with this in mind a sense of pride, respect and dignity for ones home is further extended. However, this power is limited. Communities often actuallyu have very little power to influence national policies or strategies for urban problems. Therefore, new strtegies and reviewed and reformed policies need to be set within a wider economic and political piucture. New policies and initiatives, however, do need to acknowledge that a further emphasis on communities in order to empower them, and give them a sense of competence, can in fact put more pressure back on the state for more provisions, more facilities, as the community learns to activate themselves more effectively.Moreover, despite various problematic facets connected with the concept of the community it is essential that people whom use public services who want better facilities, improved environmental standards need a voice, an empowerment in order to have a responsible management role in the development of the area.The relationship between the local people and the state in order to implement any kind of community empowerment lies at the center of currant political debate. The ironic element to notice here is that the government in the 1980s were against community involvement and state intervention, but are now advocating the inclusion of communities into urban policy. There are four possible explanations for this sudden shift in urban policy.Firstly, the restructuring of the local state by central government policy implies that the concept of community and devolution are at the center of this constant succession of changes.During the 1980’s. there was an increased focus upon property led regeneration strategies, mainly driven by agencies, such as Enterprise Zones and City Grants which deviated from community power and local authority involvement (DCC: 1994). Generally, local authorities had quite conflicting feelings about their part in central government. Often the argument was about financial limitations for schemes such as SRB and City Challenge. Therefore, the changes resulted in a form of new urban governance to replace centralised politics in order to incorporate local authority and local community interests and needs.Secondly, more community friendly urban policy is also due to legitimisation. Legitamisation focusses upon the communities within urban policy and is therefore able to legitimise central government action and policies. This is why City Challenge needs the pre-requisite of community involvement so that funding can be successfully obtained. However, the government prioritises private sector powers, and private sector property developments in the City Challenge areas. This results in a mixed tenure and therefore social diversification. In this case then, local communities involved in City Challenge schemes will find it difficult to adapt to initiatives and practices tot heir needs. But limited practices are better than none, and that seems to be enough to justify continued involvement.