In 2003, in my role as Community Development Manager for Devon & Cornwall Housing Association (DCHA) I raised £156,000 from the Housing Corporation to enable an ambitious, mixed-tenure, resident involvement project for Cannon & Cornwall Street, Devonport in Plymouth.
The social housing tenants had previously lived on the site in towers blocks, which had been demolished prior to my involvement. I first met with a small group of residents who felt forgotten and abandoned as the temporary housing into which they were moved in 1998 – pending development of their new homes – was always meant to be ‘temporary’ and nothing appeared to be happening.
The Housing Corporation (Community Training and Enabling), funding was awarded on the basis of on a multi-strand community programme of activity, which I had developed alongside the local community – a project, which was to run alongside the two-year build programme of the new scheme. I was subsequently seconded as Community Development Coordinator to work exclusively on the project, which included:
• Recruitment and up-skilling of a Community Worker from the Cannon & Cornwall Street community to shadow me and continue upon my departure (Jackie is still in post today!).
• An in-depth community-wide consultation programme on the architectural and landscape design and materials to be used in the construction of the new homes and public realm, which dove-tailed with design team meeting timetable to enable timely input into the build schedule.
• Development of a Resident Management Organisation for the new scheme, with designated authority and allocated budgets from DCHA for areas of operation including waste collection, maintenance and decision-making around open spaces.
The project – delivered to timetable and to budget – was officially unveiled in 2007 and went on to win numerous awards for sustainable design and resident-involvement, including a Gold in CABE’s ‘Building for Life’ Award.