City Challenge Partnerships
City Challenge Partnerships represented a major switch of funding mechanisms towards competitve bidding. This is an imaginative project that was designed by the local autorities in order to gain funding. The City Challenge initiative was designed to address some of the weaknesses of the earlier regeneration schemes. The participating organisations were better organised and much more involved. This particularly applied to the residents of the area and the local authority. Many earlier initiatives had focusd on improving buildings, whereas city challenge gave equal importance to to buildings, people and values. Cooperation between local authorities and private and public groups, some of which were voluntary, was prioritised.
All areas that use the City Challenge scheme have suffered from high long term and youth unemployment, a low skills base, poor level of educational attainment, environmental deterioration, increasing areas of derilict land and growng comercial property vacance. Public sector housing was deterioating in nearly all the City Challenge areas due to a combination of poor initial design and inadequate maintanance. People that are found in this housing have either poorer health than the average individual, high levels of personal crime or fear of crime, a high proportion of single parent families and households dependant on social security.
The priorities of the different City Challenge areas varied. In Liverpool, priority was given to environmental improvement, while in Wolverhampton a science park formed the centrepiece of the project. In Hulme, Manchester, housing improvement was the main focus.


Hulme City Challenge Partnership

Hulme is an area in Manchester that was redeveloped as part of a slum clearance programme in the 1960's and a number of high rise flats were built. 98% of the 5500 dwellings were owned by the council. Over half of the dwellings were part of a deck access system, with many of the poor design features of prefabricated construction. The area had a low level of families with children, and a disproportianate numer of single person households. There was also some evidence that the local authority had used the area to 'dump' some of its more unfortunate residents.
In 1992, under the Hulme City Challenge Partnership, plans were drawn up to build 3000 new homes, with new shopping areas, roads and community facilities. A more traditional pattern of housing development was designed, with streets, squares, two storey houses and low rise flats. By 1995. 50ha of land had been reclaimed, the majority of the former deck access flats had been demolished. 600 new homes for rents had been built, and more than 400 homes had been improved and refurbished. The main shopping area had been totally refurbished, including the addition of an ASDA supermarket. A new community centre, including creche facilities and other social provision, the Zion centre, was also constructed. Another positive point is that crime in the area has greatly reduced and there is more of a social mix of people living in the area. The appearance of Hulme has altered radically.
This has also helped to change the bad reputation that Hulme gained in the 1970's and 1980's, however, this has been a very long process. Brierly Fields, a green area, has been partly developed for a series of office blocks, and partly retained as urban parkland. This office development has attracted big companies such as Michelin, Laing O'Rourke and the University of Manchester data centre. One significant part of Hulme that still exists is Moss Side Sports Centre. Upgraded for the 2002 Commonwealth games, the centre has a gym and other sporting facilities. Hulme's proximity to the city has made it a popular place to live for a new generation of city dwellers; students of the University of Manchester also live in many of the student focused residential developments in the area. A symbol of the regeneration is the Hulme arch.

Was the Initiative successful?

Overall, the competition between areas for funding was successful - improving the quality of proposals and encouraging new and more imaginitave ideas. It was particularly popular in the private sector. However, the competitive nature of the scheme was criticised by others on the grounds that large sums of money should have been allocated according to need, not competitive advantage. In some cases, neigbouring authorties competed against each other when they could have worked together to try and win the funding. The policy that all successful bidders should recieve exactly the same sum of money, irrespective of need, was also criticised. Also, there was no specific criteria to follow to many authorities just felt asif it was just a stab in the dark.
In 1997, the Conservative government was able to publish statistics pointing to the success of City Challenge. Over 40,000 houses had been improved, 53,000 jobs had been created, nearly 2000ha of derelict land had been reclaimed and more than 3000 new businesses had been
established.


Batley City Challenge
Batley located within the West Yorkshire conurbation, lies to near to the cities of Leeds and Bradford and just north of Dewsbury. The City Chalenge area covered 550 hectares, 20000 people and 7500 dwellings. It included all the igrediants neccassary to precipitate change, including close proximity to the regions motorway network and access to the trans pennine railway.

'From Rags to Riches'
In the 1800's, Batley was the world capital of the shoddy and mungo industry - a process whereby cloth was produced from woolen waste and rags. Since then the towns economic fortunes have been steadily eroded. The challenge is to restore its former prosperity, to move from 'Rags to Riches.'


Batleys Inner City Problems
Economically, Socially and Environmentally, the area was multiply deprived:


Economic

  • Congested and indirect links to the M1 and M62
  • An under-invested and under-used town centre
  • 40 vacant or under-used mills
  • A stagnant property market
  • 17.4% male unemployment
  • Poor skills base amongst population

Social
  • The area had the highest concentration of adults in Kirklees in reciept of community charge benefit
  • Ageing and deteriorating Victorian housing stock
  • Local divide also existed in health care, with infant mortality and death rate through heart attacks, up to three times the national average!
  • High crime rates
  • Low educational attainment
  • Cultural activities limited

Environmental
  • Degraded as a result of derelict and contaminated land left by past industries, including textiles and coal mining
  • In an area of high density land usage, open space, particularly recreation, was limited

Contrasts also existed between the Asian and White populations. 25% of households were headed by people born in the New Commonwealth or Pakistan. Only 40% of Asian males had full-time jobs compared with 70% of white males; a problem exacerbated by poor English language skills.

Batley City Challenge
Arguably, Batley deserved the 'the prize' of landing the successful City Challenge bid - a total purse of £37.5 million. In reality, this total equated only to around £150 for every woman, man and child a year. Regardless, in its Development Plan, Batley Action talked of 'immense' oppertunites for revival. Work would be centred upon the renewal and redevelopment of housing and property; an allocation of 70% of the funding. Communication routes would also be improved and the environment made more attractive to both businesses and local communities. Crucially, it was hoped that such developments would enable a further £200 million to be levered from other sources.

Key Successes of Batley City Challenge by 1988

  • The new Challenge Way link road to the M1, and associated road junction improvements flagship Business & Technology Centre providing education, training and support to the local workforce
  • Nearly 500 buildings, particularly those associated with the former textile industry on brownfield sites renewed or redeveloped
  • A Green Grant scheme established to helps organisations financially, including community groups in small-scale environmental improvement projects. Buildings have been stone cleaned and green spaces created
  • Town centre, Market place and Commercial Street revival projects have improved the immediate town centre of Batley. In turn, this has encouraged a mini renaissance of cultural and retail growth in the heart of the City Challenge areas
  • 2500 local authority owned homes have been renewed. This has had a positive effect on the local community, allowing residents to take a greater ownership and pride in their immediate area. This has helped combat many social problems such as crime and poor health. Most of these homes have since been bought under the 1980 Right to Buy legislation
  • The community as a whole has been encouraged to work together and celebrate the diversity of faiths, cultures and religions that co-exist within the area. The 'Batley Bash' multicultural summer carnival is now an annual event. A community resource centre opened in 1997 and is a base for multi-faith community groups and voluntary organisations.