Building Connected & Resilient Communities
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This workshop discussed international developments in building connected and resilient communities. It was facilitated by Andrew Walker, Policy Researcher for the UK Local Government Information Unit (LGIU).
This workshop will discuss international developments in building connected and resilient communities.
Andrew Walker believes that resilience should be about looking at the whole context of a place and then thinking about urban design, infrastructure, economic growth and community engagement in radically different ways. He has found examples aplenty in the UK with the draconian local government funding cuts in recent years and in New York at the Cities for Tomorrow conference.
Many aspects of what makes urban communities resilient will be unpacked and discussed in depth and in the context of New York City itself. It’s a sign of the times that there should be global interest in a concept that stresses recovery and survival.
Many of the issues bound up with resilience could be deployed in a more positive way in order to shape and build strong places that thrive, rather than merely survive. This can help us to think about urban design, infrastructure, economic growth and community engagement in radically different ways.
Interesting examples demonstrate the potential of city infrastructure to deliver on its technical requirements without creating physical barriers for the people who live there.
There are many issues that require multiple responses. This is important as resilience requires looking at the whole context of a place, taking into account the complexity and interconnectedness that exists. Focusing on any one issue in isolation is not satisfactory.
The link to building connected, as well as resilient, communities recognizes it is vital that we focus on the quality of connectivity of the community, as well as the numbers of houses built. We have to build good places for people to live, which are well connected and encourage residents to walk and spend time outside.
A recent UK survey has found there are serious challenges in trying to achieve connectivity and walkability.
For Building Connected Communities we surveyed 118 officers from local authorities across England and found that eighty nine per cent say walking access is a key consideration for their council, while ninety four per cent have a Local Plan in place that encourages walking and active travel. However, only forty nine per cent felt developers share the same priorities.
While housing has shot up the political agenda in the last year with the Government’s call for a rebirth of house building, the report finds four out of ten councils say they have experienced difficulty meeting their walking and active travel priorities when delivering large developments.
We need places for people to live healthy, happy, active lives. This means they need to be well connected, with good access to walking, cycling and green infrastructure. The key is to find ways to make walking the easiest and most appealing option for getting around.
But the issue goes beyond planning itself. It encompasses a whole range of council activity and departments. Councils should have strong policies in place to require connectivity. It is important that it is required, more than just suggested or recommended. They should also seek to improve their strategic engagement with developers and have dialogue as early as possible to establish their expectations.
The UK Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) has been at the forefront of thinking about the future of local government and has recently produced two reports, ‘Beyond Devolution’ and ‘Resilience in Practice’. At this key moment in the trajectory of the UK it is crucial to ask what the future has in store for local democracy. This is precisely what the Beyond Devolution report does: in order to investigate this situation more fully, the LGIU convened a high level network of leaders from councils across the country, as well as senior academics from four universities and practitioners from organisations across the public sector. This leads into the Resilience report which demonstrates the importance of nurturing the power within communities to manage long-term change, supporting the capacity of individual citizens to adapt and participate, and the building the skills and assets within organisations that allow them to work in new ways.
Refer to the Workshop flyer: Building Connected & Resilient Communities (PDF - 578KB)