TURAS expert contact:
Paula Vandergert



The transition challenge

Austerity measures faced by many local authorities mean that their capacity to invest in social and green networks and infrastructures is being reduced or removed altogether. With the current lack of local authority funds and the reduction or abolition of public or not-for-profit housing, housing delivery in urban neighbourhoods is increasingly dependent on commercial developers. However in many cases, the developer's concentration on profitability results in a general unresponsiveness to community needs and works to the detriment of longer-term social and ecological considerations. This lack of both the initial investment in and subsequent management and maintenance of social and green assets and infrastructures has negative long-term consequences for community cohesion, ecological sustainability and general liveability of urban neighbourhoods.
There is thus a need to rethink current models of planning, development and management of local community assets. Alternative governance models need to be developed that enable and empower local communities to play a much more pro-active role in managing and developing local assets and resources to respond to community needs and aspirations.

The TURAS integrated approach

Ensuring local communities' needs and aspirations are integrated into neighbourhood planning, development and long-term management involves the setting up of responsive networks, new institutions and adaptive governance structures. These can both formally invest in and hold local assets as well as manage a variety of collaborative and co-productive processes that facilitate the growth of an integrated, sustainable and resilient community. At the heart of this is facilitating empowered local communities to develop the knowledge, skills, resources and capability to play a pro-active role in shaping the future of their local community assets and the wider neighbourhood.


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Creating systemic Knowledge

In this integrated project, a fundamental step in growing sustainable and resilient community assets is understanding and documenting the formal and informal institutions and networks that co-exist within a neighbourhood or area of a city. This requires co-defining the scale and administrative and geographical boundaries so that locally significant social networks and assets, green nodes and corridors are identified and included. Physical and institutional connections to the wider domain are important to understand, so that the local system is understood in its larger administrative, geographical, socio-economic and ecological context.

  • ...identifying local assets within the neighbourhood that could produce community value and be managed by the community

  • ...providing crowdsourced information and maps of underused spaces

  • ...monitoring the use of custom built solutions that increase customer choices

  • ...generating knowledge on underused and vacant spaces in defined urban areas using a controlled mapping process

Developing shared visions

Co-developing a local community vision for local assets undertaken in an inclusive and comprehensive way is critical to the success of transitioning to new models of community empowerment. Steps to achieve this need to be elaborated so that a process is put in place that brings together relevant actors both within the neighbourhood and those outside who are required for decision-making and actions. Where new models of governance are proposed, the vision needs to incorporate adaptive learning and governance so that community representatives develop the necessary skills to actively take part in managing local assets on behalf of the full range of community interests.

  • ...activating the local community in order to enable them to identify and formulate their wishes, values and visions for local assets with a task force of transdisciplinary designers and community stakeholders

  • ...providing high level information on practical solutions and case studies for overcoming resource barriers to realise project ideas

  • ...maximising community opportunities to expand or set up new entreprises, ensuring space is used productively, and strengthening community capital

  • ...engaging citizens with their place and one another; empowering citizen with knowledge to help them address local issues and self-organise

Developing integrated strategies

The creation of community led social and green assets need socially innovative tools to facilitate develop community knowledge and the institutional and financial resources to realise the visions for those assets. The role of institutional entrepreneurs or bridging actors who can facilitate dialogue and collaborative planning processes between local authority, communities and businesses so that communities are engaged on an equal basis will be critical to success. These change agents can help with overcoming knowledge discrepancies, with ensuring a shared language and understanding of local assets and to facilitate local actors to communicate their strategic development objectives.

  • ...a collaborative process and community-based institutional model to set up a strategic management plan in order to develop inclusive pathways to develop local social and green assets

  • ...providing opportunities for the community to realise innovative ideas that revitalise underused spaces

  • ...developing an innovative housing approach that allows future residents to be involved in a collaborative design process to customize their homes

  • ...creating engaged and active citizens; highlighting the extent of underuse of the urban fabric; highlighting the value of alternative uses for social-ecological benefit

Implementing transition activities

Ensuring community access to resources, tools and opportunities will provide a concrete platform for turning a vision and strategic plan for community local assets into reality. These activities can facilitate small incremental steps to community development and management of local social and green assets as well as allowing communities to build a bigger picture from incremental steps, so that added value to the wider community can grow over time.

  • ...setting up a Community Interest Company (CIC) as a type of non-profit social enterprise that manages local assets and facilitates the development of skills and activities that benefit the community

  • ...establishing a Public Private Partnership
    (PPP) between the local authority and housing developers
    ...managing housing delivery via a custom-build developer in conjunction with a group custom-build body consisting of future residents

  • ...setting up an online civic engagement platform and social media channels for the town or city, providing ongoing resources, setting up associated offline events such as tours, workshops, classes

  • ...creating guidelines and an online tool for setting-up and realising community projects through case study model
    ...making links to required resources

  • ...setting up an online portal linking assets with potential users in a specifc area, a competition process for ideas and proposals,
    and associated offline events


Please get in touch with our expert contact for additional material.