Issues of social balance and mixed communities

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Issues of social balance and mixed communities

Interest in social balance and mixed communities has arisen as a response to both increased management issues in social housing and to concepts of the underclass and social exclusion The identification of significant and persistent inequalities between areas at the ward and neighbourhood level in recent research eg Meen et al 2005 has triggered a shift in housing strategy and policy Social balance is now entrenched within English housing and planning policy where it provides a correction to the housing markets natural tendency to segregate Goodchild and Cole 2001 Although this state interventionist approach has come underfire from academics such as Cheshire 2007 who argue that spatial policy cannot correct deeprooted social and economic forces and that the focus of policy should be to reduce income inequality in society not just treat the consequences of it social mixing has gained popular support in urban policy

This literature review outlines the mixed community approach to urban gentrification in urban policy by discussing its latest iteration the MCI The MCIs place in UK policy discourse is then analysed as a way of exploring its conceptual and theoretical ideologies for area regeneration Finally an in depth review of the literature is conducted which reengages with

Mixed Communities as an approach to area regeneration

Since 2005 the mixed communities approach to gentrification and the renewal of disadvantaged neighbourhoods has become firmly embedded in the UKs housing and planning policy The approach was first announced in January 2005 in the Mixed Communities Initiative MCI which formed part of New Labours five year plan for the delivery of sustainable communities The MCI has four core components Lupton et al 2009

A commitment to the transformation of areas with concentrated poverty to provide a better housing environment higher employment better education less crime and higher educational achievements

To achieve these through changes in the housing stock and attraction of new populations whilst improving opportunities for existing populations

Finance development by recognising the value of publicly owned land and other public assets

Integrate government policies to produce a holistic approach which is sustainable through mainstream funding

Initially the MCI was delivered through twelve demonstration projects situated in the most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK However more recently the concepts behind the mixed community approach have grown beyond these projects and are now advocated by planning authorities in a diverse range of areas Consequently mixed community developments are emerging without demonstration project status and as such mixed communities have become an approach to area regeneration in addition to being a government policy initiative Silverman et al 2006

In response to this policy development the purpose of this literature review is twofold Firstly through analysis of the theories of poverty place and gentrification in policy discourse it is possible to gain an understanding of the rationale behind the mixed communities conception of the causes place poverty Review Secondly

Theories of Poverty and Place in Urban Policy

Any form of urban regeneration reflects a specific theoretical understanding of the causes of place poverty Throughout the 20th Century UK urban policy has undergone a transformation in its understanding of the causes of place poverty and consequently the approach to urban regeneration has altered

A broad distinction can be made in the UKs approaches to regeneration between early regeneration by the Keynesian welfare state and that advocated by conservative governments The former looked to correct the crisis of the neighbourhood through neighbourhood improvement This approach understands the problems of declining areas as a product of the economic structures which cause spatial and social inequality Katz 2004 In response they looked to improve living

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