The Tollington Regeneration Initiative is a 4-way Islington regeneration partnership between residents of the Tollington Neighbourhood in North Islington, the London Borough of Islington, the University of North London (UNL) and City & Islington Health Authority.
Begun in January 1997 through an approach by LBI to UNL as part of its Compact agreement, the University of North London is the lead agency for the first phase of the Partnership, taking on the task of facilitator, broker and policy adviser, bringing together all the partners and associated network players (eg police, schools, voluntary and community groups) to establish a shared understanding of the Tollington Neighbourhood, and to collaboratively identify a series of actions to regenerate the area.
THE TRI is centred on 5 housing estates in a run down area of North Islington which comprises 1800 social housing properties and 5,500 people. The partnership's holistic Community Economic Development (CED) approach has meant that it is the residents of the housing estates themselves that are regarded as 'the experts'.
A) TRI PROCESS
The initiative formally began with a community planning week with residents attending workshops facilitated by UNL staff. Out of these discussions 6 themed working groups were established :
1 Children and families
2 Living and quality of life
3 Lifetime learning
4 Economic activity
5 Physical issues
and a Contemporary History Project
Alongside the 6 themed working groups there has been a series of interviews and focus groups discussions with residents, residents questionnaires, meetings with LA officers, the local business community and voluntary organisations, police, primary schools and so on.
B) ACTION RESEARCH FINDINGS
This very detailed consultation process produced a rich understanding of the Tollington Neighbourhood including the following :
1 A neighbourhood in considerable "communal distress and depression", and personal insecurity with higher than average indices of poverty.
2 Past and present failures of Islington Council to invest in physical maintenance and repairs resulting in an impoverished, uncared-for neighbourhood environment with the current re-organisational upheaval of LBI's structure and staffing adding to its problems.
3 A small number of under-funded and under-resourced community and voluntary groups largely engaged in struggles with the LA to improve LA services in the neighbourhood.
4 The LA acting as sole supplier of services within the neighbourhood (eg housing management, repairs, education, elderly care, social services, leisure and library services, street and refuse supervision and collection).
5 Third sector organisations (ie community development, training agencies, community groups, advice and advocacy groups) largely dependent on grant aid from the LA.
These imbalances have produced a long-standing breakdown of trust between the LA and the Tollington Neighbourhood with multi-layered negative impacts on the capacity of residents to fully participate in social and economic activities.
C) ACTION PLAN
The partnership has produced a 10 year programme of action which is described below under 6 themes :
1 Establish a Tollington Partnership of Change
The proposed Partnership would give residents a substantial voice, and would also include other stakeholders : LBI, C&IHA, the Police, Local Business community, and the Voluntary Sector. The aim of the partnership is to establish an Integrated Action Zone (ie a community Enterprise Zone and a Social Enterprise Zone) in which all agencies and interests would co-operate and network with each other to redefine existing priorities, establish a plurality of delivery agencies and delivery mechanisms to find new ways forward in the regeneration of communities. The partnership would be subject to a local ballot and would have an independent secretariat and chair.
2 Physical Change
The housing stock, environment and layout of the Tollington Neighbourhood to receive significant and prolonged investment including a new physical infrastructure, cycle routes, parking arrangements, protected open spaces and landscaping. Improvements to existing housing stock including the demolition of some, external and internal upgrading, roof terracing and gardens.
3 Diversity of Use and Service Delivery Agencies
Because most of the neighbourhood is comprised almost entirely of social housing, new community facilities are required. It is proposed that 15% of housing stock is freed up for other purposes including live-work units, workshops, local radio station, Tenants Association offices, and other forms of housing tenure.
It is also proposed to promote a plurality of delivery agencies eg housing maintenance and repairs, youth activities, elderly care and a healthy living centre by exploring new organisational forms. Their local base, independence, and significant resident representation on each management board will enable more direct resident control and is seen as a stepping stone to the creation of a strong network of agencies that can act as a basis for a local social economy providing a means of developing the neighbourhood's skill base and capacity to become re-engaged into the wider London economy.
4 Community Infrastructure
Currently residents and the diverse communities in the neighbourhood do not yet provide a community infrastructure or action networks adequate to support the residents' participation as equal partners in a long term regeneration partnership. In addition to existing community organisations, a Tollington Community Association (TCA) is proposed which will be responsible for developing that infrastructure and a capacity-building programme. Another key component will be to transfer neighbourhood assets (eg land, buildings, car parks etc) to the TCA in order to create an additional revenue stream so that it can act independently of external grant-aid.
5 Education and Economic Development
It is proposed to create a Tollington Education Action Network designed to foster adult participation in education at all levels. This network would bring together schools, parents, residents, training agencies, and community groups to establish a range of programmes eg parent/governor support, foster parent/carer groups, databases of volunteers to assist in learning; use of school/community facilities as adult learning centres running accredited and non award short courses, a community college link to FE and UNL facilities.
Through a "Tollington One Stop Advice Shop", local training providers in the Neighbourhood would come together to co-ordinate their services, promoting training and personal development opportunities. A Tollington Jobs Employment Initiative would work to secure a temporary one year job for resident unemployed for over 6 months. The Tollington Partnership would also support the Tollington Enterprise Initiative formed to support the creation of new business and Social Enterprises.
6 Sustainability of the Tollington Partnership
It is proposed that the Tollington Partnership seeks finance from local, national and EU structural funds, from the National Lottery, Charitable Trusts and the private sector. It is understood however, that finance from these sources, particularly for investment into the neighbourhood's social capital and CED programmes will not be sufficient to meet all costs. It is proposed that the TP generates a revenue stream to support these initiatives in the long term through the creation of a Dowry of developmental assets (eg Hornsey Road Baths & Depot, abandoned underground car parks, boiler houses, derelict garages etc).
D) NEXT STEPS
The TRI is only at its initial phase, the next steps are to seek feedback by residents, neighbourhood community groups, and institutional stakeholders on the TRI Action Plan; to progress the setting up of the TCA, more consultation to develop programmes of work on the proposal and bidding strategies. In the immediate short term the plan is to get Partners to work out a set of practical steps as a vehicle for re-establishing trust between stakeholders as a testing bed for longer term strategies.
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