Cultural planning: can community development work?

It’s common, in the placemaking field, to hear complaints and criticism of major development plans, frequently for an over-emphasis on soulless retail and non-affordable housing projects as key delivery drivers. Such megaplans can, and do, miss out on opportunities for maximising existing place and cultural assets, and frequently leave local communities cold.

But in Leith, Scotland, alternative approaches to a major city-driven regeneration plan have been actively and passionately developed over several years, based on a series of creative and cultural interventions designed to use the selected areas of the existing space to maximum potential, and to involve local communities.  A group called JUMP (Joined Up Master Planning) has been pioneering a series of ‘critiques & suggestions’ based on the City of Edinburgh Leith Docks Development Framework (LDDF) and live Forth Ports Outline Planning Application (OPA).

The aim is to influence, through arts-led regeneration, cultural planning and the delivery of social enterprise businesses, the development of key parts of the Edinburgh waterfront regeneration project.

Currently, acting with the Granton Community Partnership (JUMP: Joined Up Master Planning, NET: North Edinburgh Trust, CLU: Community Land Use, AiA: Art in Architecture and Community Regeneration Plan for Granton) JUMP is developing plans for an international garden festival featuring artist/gardener collaborations that will open six months of every year, an artist/artisan village made from turf roofed sea containers, and a pop-up lido on the Forth waterfront.

JUMP formed in December 2007, at the time comprising a voluntary (unpaid) core team of design professionals supported by a wider field of professionals of mixed background and members of the public. JUMP was set up in order to contest the Outline Planning Application (OPA) submitted by Forth Ports Plc and also to question the process supported by the City of Edinburgh Council that has led to the current Planning Application. JUMP is ‘not against development but is concerned simply with the quality of development,’ it states.

JUMP is now working on building community support in the Granton area. Several opportunities for projects are considered around an area of the waterfront, along with ideas for preserving the integrity of the historic walled garden at Granton. Proposals for the site, now being referred to as Granton sur Mer, will deliver a community development consisting of an annual art and horticultural festival; an artist / artisan village made from recycled sea containers and a beach front Lido. All projects will be self-sustainable, with their own green energy plant. All projects will train and emply local people. All projects will run as social enterprise business models with profits going back to the community.

Artist Shaeron Averbuch is one of the drivers of the plans, which focus around a programme of art- and design-related activities created to act as stepping stones for Granton sur Mer and the continued cultural development of the Edinburgh waterfront – or at least the parts we can have influence on, says Averbuch.

The successful approach taken by JUMP and its partners will be examined at A Place for Creativity, an event exploring ways in which creativity in placemaking can be unlocked, enabling the development of urban environments that are both inspiring and interesting can have a positive impact on economic and civil wellbeing. Feedback and multimedia will be posted after the event.

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One thought on “Cultural planning: can community development work?

  1. Sharon

    Thanks – we really appreciate this overview of the work. If anyone is interested, more details on Granton sur Mer and the Granton Live.Culture Crunch programme


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