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The potential for neighbourhood regeneration in a period of austerity: Changing forms of neighbourhood governance in two cities

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Localism is an active political strategy, developed in a period of austerity by the UK’s Coalition Government as a justification for the restructuring of state–civil society relationships. The deprived neighbourhood has long been a site for service delivery and a scale for intervention and action, giving rise to a variety of forms of neighbourhood governance. Prior international comparative research indicated convergence with the US, given the rise of the self-help conjuncture and the decline of neighbourhood governance as a medium of regeneration. The subsequent shift in the UK model from ‘big’ to ‘small state’ localism and deficit-reducing cuts to public expenditure confirm these trends, raising questions about the forms of neighbourhood governance currently being established, the role being played by local and central government, and the implications for neighbourhood regeneration. Two emerging forms of neighbourhood governance are examined in two urban local authorities and compared with prior forms examined in earlier research in the case study sites. The emerging forms differ significantly in their design and purpose, but as both are voluntary and receive no additional funding, better organised and more affluent communities are more likely to pursue their development. While it is still rather early to assess the capacity of these forms to promote neighbourhood regeneration, the potential in a period of austerity appears limited. Reduced funding for local services increases the imperative to self-help, while rights to local voice remain limited and the emerging forms provide little scope to influence (declining) local services and (still centralised) planning decisions, especially in neighbourhoods with regeneration needs that are likely to lack the requisite capacities, particularly stores of linking social capital. Initial conclusions suggest greater polarity and the further containment of deprived neighbourhoods.
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Keywords: Localism; austerity; neighbourhood governance; neighbourhood planning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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  • Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal is the essential peer-reviewed journal for all professionals concerned with physical, economic and social regeneration of urban communities. It publishes in-depth articles and real world case studies on the latest strategy, policy making and current and best practice in the field. Guided by its expert Editor and Editorial Board, each quarterly 100-page issue does not publish advertising but rather in-depth articles written by and for urban regeneration professionals analysing current and best practice in the planning, consultation, funding, delivery and long-term management of regeneration programmes, as well as the latest policy making, developments and research in the field.

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