A New Place a New Community. the Case Study of Gillet Square, a Community-Led Urban Regeneration Project.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Michele BIANCHI, University Carlo Bo urbino, Italy
The urban regeneration is not merely a process that affects the physical structure of cities but it deals with many other aspects, such as the local social structure and the environmental issues. This article focuses its attention on the inner cities and asks questions on the possible redevelopment of them, with particular attention to the social innovation. I refer here to social innovation as Moulaert et al. (2003, 2009, 2014) have theorised it. This aims to find innovative solutions for a range of problems that affect people such as exclusion, deprivation, poverty, lack of wellbeing. This process involves many actors and it fosters inclusion and wellbeing through the implementation of social relations and people empowerment. This article presents the main features of Gillet Square, a project promoted by Hackney Co-operative Developments (HCD) a community interest company based in the London East End. This area is one of the most disadvantaged in England. Moreover, it is witnessing a strong gentrification process, which is excluding many dwellers from local services and house affordability. This qualitative research assesses the coherency of the Gillet Square project with its objectives and values, and how the HCD has worked in partnership with other organisations for the renewal of the square. Findings show how a community-led initiative can involve local stakeholders in the regeneration of a critical area and develops a new local asset for the promotion of social cohesion and integration of marginalised citizens. Elderly isolated people are more engaged in community life, teenagers have designed the temporary skate park and families can enjoy leisure activities. The Action Group, which is composed by members of ethnic groups, local businesses, charities and the Hackney Council, have created the wide cultural program of Gillet square. All the activities are free entry and promote a good social mix.