For all the talk of changing lifestyles, neighbourhood still plays a fundamental role in many people’s lives. Neighbourhoods frame people’s lives, providing a bundle of services that people need, and an environment on which families depend. With this this sort of focus there is a danger of over-focusing on neighbourhoods themselves. Local experiences need linking to wider social and urban regeneration in the uk pdf forces.
For most of their history in Britain, Ruth Lupton notes, area-based programmes have been undertaken without proper attention to macro policy to deal with the more fundamental causes of area problems. There is also a risk of falling into a sentimental view of neighbourhood. Neighbourhood is a word that has come to sound like a valentine. As a sentimental concept ‘neighbourhood’ is harmful to city planning.
It leads to attempts at warping city life into imitations of town or suburban life. Sentimentality plays with sweet intentions in place of good sense. Jacobs’ warning is worth attending to. A successful city neighbourhood is a place that keeps sufficiently abreast of its problems so it is not destroyed by them. An unsuccessful neighbourhood is a place that is overwhelmed by its defects and problems and is progressively more helpless before them. Our cities contain all degrees of success and failure.
In Britain too, there were similar shifts. The abandonment of terraced housing and planned garden cities in favour of unplanned suburbs. The adoption of large-scale clearance instead of more incremental renewal. The construction of mass housing estates as the dominant low-income form in every inner-city area. Taken alongside major changes and dislocations in local economies, these policies have contributed significantly, just as in the United States, to growing social polarization and problems of sprawl. England alone there were up to 4000 neighbourhoods where the problems of unemployment and crime are acute and ‘hopelessly tangled up with poor health, housing and education’. Social polarization Social and spatial polarisation can be understood as ‘the widening gap between groups of people in terms of their economic and social circumstances and opportunities.
In many countries the gap between rich and poor has opened up. Over the past 15 years, more households have become poor, but fewer are very poor. Areas already wealthy have tended to become disproportionately wealthier, and we are seeing some evidence of increasing polarisation. In particular there are now areas in some of our cities where over half of all households are breadline poor. Social tenants are much more concentrated within the poorer parts of the income distribution than in the past Two-thirds of social housing is still located within areas originally built as council estates.
These originally housed those with a range of incomes, but now the income polarisation between tenures also shows up as polarisation between areas. Many people have sought to escape such projects and estates. They look to the suburbs and beyond, or to other, more ‘desirable’ neighbourhoods with better schools and safer public spaces. If this happens on any scale, local networks and the sense of belonging are weakened.
These increased the concentration of poverty in the poorest areas and neighbourhoods. Here we will briefly examine the movements and dynamics involved with each of these – and add a fourth theme that appears in a significant number of disadvantaged neighbourhoods – poor housing and poor design. 1970s and 1980s were periods of ‘catastrophic employment decline’. This is made worse by the long time lag between closure or loss and the appearance of any concrete benefits for local people through redevelopment and regeneration. Many of the areas affected by severe job losses in the 1970s are still feeling the impact. Such change and loss needs to be set in the context of broader economic change.
In 1981 one in three jobs held by men was in manufacturing. By 2001 this had fallen to about one in five. Social and economic policy in Britain has, over the last thirty years, led to a widening gap between rich and poor. As we have already seen, given the concentration of poorer people in social housing it has meant that some neighbourhoods have suffered disproportionately.
While fewer people are very poor, a relatively large number still live in poverty. There has been some improvement in with regard to the numbers of children living in poverty in the UK but more recently there has been little change. With the world banking crisis of 2008, the associated rise in unemployment, and the large-scale cutbacks in public education and welfare from 2010 onwards, economic inequality appears to be growing. Moreover, it is children and young people who have disproportionately borne the burden of this. For example, in 2009 around 2.