European Complex Systems Network of Excellence
WORKSHOP ON COMMUNITY & URBAN RENEWAL & COMPLEXITY THEORY
20 July 2005
at the Eden Project, Cornwall
An in-depth study using the Falmouth and Redruth projects will start the discussion on the conditions that enable and inhibit renewal, seen from a complexity perspective. The other projects to be discussed will be Cranborne in Cornwall, New Cross Gate and Peckham in London, and Hulme in Manchester. This is the second workshop, following one in London at the LSE on 8 March. The Eden Workshop will not repeat what happened at the LSE workshop, but will concentrate on the difference that complexity theory makes to our understanding of civic renewal and will lead to a third meeting in London to outline a research project to be submitted for funding.
A summary of each project is given below:
Falmouth, Cornwall: The BEACON Project
Founded in 1995 and Health Visitor led, this project demonstrates how the health professionals position of trust and credibility within a community, was harnessed to achieve change, reversing health and social decline. In 1995 Penwerris with a population of 6000, was the largest estate and poorest council ward in Cornwall. The perception of the residents was that they had been abandoned by most of the statutory agencies. Communication between them was non-existent and at best extremely poor between the community itself. There was no community spirit and no community activities of any kind existed for any age group. Levels of violent crime, substance abuse, and children in need of protection had reached an all time “high”. The Health Visitor by improving communication networks, gradually facilitated engagement of the community and statutory agencies, which led to the successful tenant and resident led, multi-agency Beacon Community Regeneration Partnership which, in turn, generated resources and began a community led momentum to completely reverse the health and social downward trend.. The estate has been transformed not only visually. It now has a strong sense of community with many community activities for all age groups Health outcomes 1995-1999:
Post-natal depression came down by 70%
Number of children on Child Protection register down 60%
Overall crime rate came down by 50%
Childhood accident rate came down by 50%
Residents’ fuel bills were cut by £180,306 p.a.
Unemployment came down by 71%
Central heating and energy conservation measures to over 900 properties
Educational attainment: 10 and 11 yr old boys S.A.T.S. improved 100%, girls 25%
Teenage pregnancy reduced to zero in 2003/4
Hazel Stuteley O.B.E., R.G.N., R.H.V.
Hazel Stuteley qualified as a health visitor in 1972 following registered nurse training at King’s College Hospital, London. Hazel worked in inner city practices in London and Southampton before moving to Cornwall in 1975 gaining many years experience in rurally deprived areas. In the mid eighties she worked in partnership with social services with self-harming teenagers, teenagers on remand and initiated the setting up of parenting initiatives for abusing families.1990-2000 was spent as a full-time health visitor working with a crucially deprived caseload in Falmouth, co founding the Beacon project, (Nye Bevan award winner – South West 1999 and awarded Beacon status for Health Improvement). In April 2000 she was appointed as a member of the Prevention and Inequalities Modernisation Action Team to develop the NHS Plan .Later that year Hazel was seconded to the Dept. of Health as National Head of Healthy Communities to lead the development phase of the Healthy Communities Collaborative .Now working back in her native Cornwall Hazel held a post as Community Development Manager within West Cornwall P.C.T .before moving in Oct 2003 to become Research Fellow at the Institute of Health and Social Care, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter University. She is a member of the Deputy Prime Ministers National Panel of Neighbourhood Renewal Advisers and the Nursing and Midwifery Modernisation Board. She is married with three sons and was awarded an O.B.E. in the 2001 Queens New Years Honours list for services to the Community in Falmouth.
Dr Katrina Wyatt has a PhD in Biological Chemistry and 15 years research experience in qualitative and qualitative research. One of the founding members of the Health Complexity Group the focus of her research is to understand the enablers and barriers to transformational change with particular reference to regeneration in West Cornwall.
New Cross Gate, London
The New Deal for Communities (NDC) Programme was set up in New Cross Gate in 2001 after an intensive period of community participation in drafting the successful bid. The programme has £45m government grant to be spent over ten years within the New Cross Gate, an area with a population of about 10,000 people. The NDC programme aims to deliver the Governments Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy with a focus on Health, Crime, Education, Housing and the Environment and Community Development and equality. A fundamental aspect of the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy is that with 10-20 years no person should be disadvantaged by where they live, and a key part in delivering this strategy is to ensure that local communities take an active role in shaping the regeneration schemes for their area. The NDC is directed by a Partnership Board, which has a majority of elected residents.
It was estimated that over 2,000 hours were spent by members of the local community in getting the initial bid drafted. Two years later the community involvement had dropped dramatically and the NDC was seen as an organisation that was remote from local needs and directed by the local Council. After intervention from the Government Office and a change in leadership within the local council a rescue plan for the NDC was put in place that involved the recruitment of a new staff team and a review of the governance procedures of the Board. Two years later the NDC is seen as performing well with a much higher participation from the local community and some highly regarded projects being delivered. However, there is still a perception that the community is not as powerful in directing the programme as some people would wish and that many of the projects are devised and delivered by staff and partners rather than the local community. The NDC is completing our fourth year and from our current base we have a good chance to deliver the scheme in the way it was intended. A detailed study of the complexity of the relationships and interactions between the partner agencies, community and staff may very well help to define a strategy for community involvement in the NDC that will help to deliver a successful and sustainable regeneration programme for New Cross Gate.
Clive Wilson is the Chief Executive of the New Cross Gate NDC (New Deal for Communities Programme). He joined the NDC two years ago at a point when the NDC was an organisation in crisis. Over the past two years he has worked with local people to help put the organisation back on track and has recently seen the NDC move from a ‘weak’ to a ‘good’ partnership in the assessment of the Government Office for London.
Clive has worked within the areas of housing and regeneration for the past ten years. Prior to this he was a building contractor and was involved in the development a Building Co Operative. He was active for 12 years in a Housing Co Operative and held the posts of Secretary and Chair of his local Housing Association. His work as the head of Housing Regeneration in Lambeth involved the development and delivery of a number of housing based regeneration and stock transfer programmes including five estate action schemes. He left Lambeth to become the Investment Strategy Manager for Southwark Housing and was responsible for the delivery of the Housing Capital Programme. Clive also led on the consultation for the development of the Housing Business Plan to secure the future investment in the housing stock.
Debbie is a resident of New Cross Gate and is a working mother with two children. Although she grew up in North London, New Cross Gate has been her home for the last nineteen years, and has been the place where she has studied and worked. Debbie was an elected member of the NDC Board until recently and continues to be closely involved with the NDC through the Education Theme Group, and is an advocate for community participation. She is a qualified Teacher having taught at Childeric Primary School in New Cross and has been involved with education for over fourteen years. Debbie is presently a School Community Worker employed at Kender Community School, a primary school within the NDC area, which has delivered outstanding results and is in the top 5% of primary schools in the country. Debbie remains committed to any project that helps raise the aspirations of the children, parents, carers and community of New Cross Gate.
Improving the engagement between the community and the Camborne Neighbourhood Team. The team, which comprises 4 police officers and 5 Police Community Support Officers, has developed a new way of working that has produced significant outcomes. The Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) are funded by the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) as are many local projects concerned with health/well being and education. The NRF demand that the PCSOs work in a health/well being and education context. Therefore, it makes sense that PCSOs support these other local projects. The influence of the NRF is so strong that police officers in the team also work this way. This is a major shift in the way that we work and it has the potential to make a significant contribution to community regeneration.
We have developed an informal partnership with Community Nurses/School Nurses (PCT) that exchanges information on people with crime and disorder and health (drunken children present disorder and health/sexual health issues) problems under S115 Crime and Disorder Act. We were invited into an informal partnership with sports professionals as a consequence of connections made at a training session entitled “Regenerating communities through sport and healthy activities”. The connections that have emerged from this and many similar events are truly staggering. We have developed a complex adaptive partnership with a host of groups who brought us in with their passion and eloquence and are concerned with health in particular and community well being in general.
As a direct consequence of this partnership we have learned that the term “engage with the community” is meaningless because “engage” is a preconceived idea and “community” is not definable in a practical way. Indeed current police attempts to re-connect community are misconceived because it means that the police see the community as a deficit model. Indeed, the police view of community reduces people to nameless numbers. Therefore we choose to redefine our activity to “integrate with people”. We have also learned that “deprived” and “regeneration” are loaded terms that can evoke resentment by local people. Therefore, we choose to work in the context of cultural revival.
This partnership influence peoples’ context and accepts collective responsibility for crime and disorder and peoples’ health. The partnership is functional because even though our targets are not overtly synchronized we acknowledge that crime and disorder and poor health have common causes. The partnership emerges from the relationship of its members rather than being determined by the choices of individuals who are in charge.
David Aynsley is married to Wendy, a hospital nurse. They have two teenage sons. He has served as a police officer in Cornwall for 15 years in a variety of towns and is a Neighbourhood Sergeant in Camborne. Since qualifying as a police trainer in 1994 he has been continually engaged in personal academic studies in education and training and will on a PhD at Plymouth University soon.
David works in a team in the context of community deprivation in general and transforming violence in particular. The police are charged with the task of “engaging with the community”. David believes that “integrating with people” is a more sophisticated approach because it places the emphasis on the connections between local people and local police, thereby, situating police learning and knowledge at the heart of communities.
David’s ambition is for his team and the police in general to be seen as part of individual local people’s personal communities
The Hulme project, Manchester
The Hulme research project in Manchester was a product of a doctoral study conceived out of a desire to explore the potential application of complexity theory in understanding urban regeneration processes. The project basically involved a historical narrative that weighed the evolution of the regeneration processes between 1960 and 2002 against the characteristic features of complex systems. The centrepiece of the complexity test was on complexity’s “edge of chaos” principle as this related to the evolving dichotomous relationship between local government and local communities in the decision-making processes. There was enough evidence of adaptation and evolution to the edge of chaos in terms of decision-making where the system had become highly centralised for much of the post war years developing into a paternalistic relationship with decisions being made by the local authority for and on behalf of local communities. However, the system slowly began to dissolve and eventually reached an edge of chaos transition phase in the late 1980s to early 1990s when consensus and partnership working assumed hegemony over paternalism. It was at this very innovative stage that the City Challenge programme was introduced in Hulme. The study noted that this consensus building that characterised decision-making at the eve of Hulme City Challenge was a product of emergent properties of the system dating as far back as the conception and completion of deck access housing in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Typical of complex systems, the search for this edge of chaos was not transcendentally designed by any central planning mechanisms, as these authorities in fact exhibited strong reluctance to accommodate the aspirations of the local communities for a long time. The study concluded by suggesting that if the system can be described in terms of self-organisation, intervention without violation of natural order should be embraced as an important analytical tool in urban regeneration.
Dr Cletus Moobela recently completed his PhD research at Sheffield Hallam University looking at the potential application of complexity theory in urban regeneration processes. His other qualifications are in Land Economy where he holds a BSc (Copperbelt University) and MLE (University of Aberdeen). Prior to commencement of his PhD, Dr. Moobela had been working as a Lecturer in Property Valuation and Investment Appraisal at Copperbelt University in Zambia. His research interests are in property market analysis, economics of social housing, and urban regeneration, with a common theoretical platform of complexity. His most recent publication is on the emerging concept of “gated communities” in the UK and is available at:
Ilfryn Price is Professor of Facilities Management at Sheffield Hallam University and adjunct Professor in FM at the University of Technology, Sydney. Much of his current research and practice concerns the relationships between organisation’s physical environment, their culture and their performance informed by complexity theory. He also deploys the concepts to help organisations reduce inter-organisational complicatedness. His most recent publication is available at
The Peckham Community Network, London
Critical to successful civil renewal and active citizenship is the nature and quality of the interaction between the local community, and local government and other public bodies. Public bodies are long established and organised entities while the community is a collection of individuals and self-organised groups that is emergent, fragile and less formally organised. The Peckham community network, in SE London, has resulted from local responses to issues in the Bellenden Renewal Area and the adjacent Peckham town centre. New structures have begun to emerge which have the potential to create an enabling environment for more informed discussions and joint working with [public agencies] or [council officers, ward councillors, neighbourhood police, and other public service agencies or companies]. The network also has potential for aiding community cohesion and creating a learning environment for active citizenship. The research project will examine, from a complexity perspective, these top-down and bottom-up processes and structures and the way they are interacting. The aim is to understand better the conditions that facilitate, and also that inhibit, desirable community and public outcomes, and to gain a better insight into what underlies effective community engagement.
Eileen Conn worked for many years in central Whitehall policy making on the management and development of government systems, and subsequently in developing systems of business corporate social responsibility. As an RSA Fellow she founded the RSA Living Systems Group in 1994 looking at companies and other human social systems as complex living systems. In parallel she has been an active citizen in London community organisations, and was Southwark Citizen of the Year in 1998. She has had a long term interest in the dynamics of communities and the emergence of community organisations from the bottom which interact with the top down structures of public agencies and commercial companies. She has found complexity theory provides a rewarding approach to understanding these complex social systems, and she is an associate in the LSE Complexity Research Programme. She is facilitating and studying the emergence of the community network and other community engagement processes in Peckham. She was co-editor and co-author of Visions of Creation (1995), and is currently working on a new book with the Living Systems Group.
Redruth, Cornwall: CREST, Community Regeneration: Enabling supporting and transferring.
This project seeks to capture key contributory elements in the regeneration process in Redruth North. It will identify what is working in the regeneration process and what is not working so well, as judged by the participants in the system. To this end the researchers will engage with the participants in the process and will have a particular interest in any findings, which might be transferable to other communities undergoing regeneration.
Organiser and Workshop Facilitator: Eve Mitleton-Kelly
Director and founder of the Complexity Research Programme at the London School of Economics, UK; Visiting Professor at the Open University; Coordinator of Links with Industry & Government in the European Network of Excellence, Exystence; Executive Director of SOL-UK (London) the London group of the global network ‘Society for Organisational Learning’. Since joining the LSE in 1986, the focus of her research has been the strategy process in the business and information systems domains, with over 90 companies in the UK and USA. EMK’s recent work has concentrated on the implications of the theories of complexity for organisations and specifically on strategy, IT legacy systems, organisational learning, the emergence of new organisational forms, the ‘design’ of organisations, post merger integration, and the development of enabling environments. She has developed a theory of complex social systems and an integrated methodology using both qualitative and quantitative tools and methods. She has written widely on complex social systems and on the application of the theory in practice and has edited a book on complexity and organisations with 14 international authors, ‘Complex Systems and Evolutionary Perspectives of Organisations: the Application of Complexity Theory to Organisations’, Elsevier, 2003, ISBN No: 0-08-043957-8. EMK’s chapter outlines 10 principles of complexity and enabling infrastructures. Her first career between 1967-83, was with the British Civil Service in the Department of Trade and Industry, where she was involved in the formulation of policy and the negotiation of EU Directives.