We recently finished our Sustainable Community: Refurbishment vs New Build debate series at The Abbey Centre in London on 15 March 2011. We were delighted with the panellists presentations and thought provoking discussion from the audience.
Throughout the series audiences have focussed on everything from capacity building to the political, social and economic implications of the Big Society and Localism Bill. There was clearly great concern over the expectations being placed on communities to provide services for local people and to take on greater responsibility for the community buildings that can host them. While there is a great emphasis on the importance and potential for partnership working, it is clear that finding strong and confident partners in the current climate is challenging. Particular concern was expressed over the role of local authorities. The decisions they make around the disposal of assets currently in or potentially for community use, and their relationship with community partners will be a key factor. But many have argued that new relationships, new models and more creative approaches are crucial, and that we must have the courage to see opportunities in the changing landscape.
The Sustainable Community Building debate series raised a number of issues that bear further investigation. We welcome your comments and questions on our blog, and invite you to continue to bring us your experiences, learning and recommendations.
More detailed outlines of the key themes from each debate are available on our website at www.theglasshouse.org.uk.