A Plan for Community Renewal
Penhill Community Plan
2004 – 2014
A strategy for Renewal
A community strategy should aim to enhance the quality of life of local communities and
contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in the UK through action to
improve the economic, social and environmental well being of the area and its inhabitants.
If this aim is to be realised , a community strategy will have to meet four objectives: It must:
 Allow communities to …………… articulate their aspirations, needs and priorities.
 Co-ordinate the actions of the council, and of the public, private , voluntary and community organisations that operate locally.
 Focus and shape existing and future activity of those organisations so that they effectively meet community needs and aspirations.
 Contribute to the achievement of sustainable development both locally and more widely, with goals and priorities relating, where appropriate, to regional, national and even global aims.
From “Preparing community strategies: a government guidance to local authorities.
Why we need a community plan/strategy?
The last ten years.
Change 1. In the year 2000 Penhill stood as urban fringe on the northern outskirts of Swindon. The northern development was creeping ever closer. There was some underlying anger in the community about the development, not only the loss of being close to the countryside, a big asset to an high density housing estate, but the development made the community feel that all energies were going to provide that area with amenities at a time when those same amenities were disappearing from Penhill or already had in Borough cost cutting exercises. Children’s play equipment and activities in particular.
Those active in the community throughout saw a change in the Northern Development Plan. Until recently it included land for a new university and employment area’s which would, in some compensation for the loss of our urban fringe, have provided employment and further amenities. The land set aside for this was changed to housing, some of which was social housing and problems were multiplied instead of decreased.
Another knock-on aspect of the development was a very distinct difference between the two communities and Penhill’s disadvantage became more pronounced at the same time as becoming more inner city and urban in its outlook. Very soon the media and others were comparing the two unfavourably. The prevailing winds now brought dust and more polluted air. The quality of life on Penhill has been adversely affected
Change 2. Unfortunately the development co-incided with increased age and lack of energy in those volunteer groups providing valuable add-on activities. Over the previous ten years volunteers were also subjected to a battering of new legislation and due to those same cutbacks in the Borough, a decreasing support from paid workers. As employment prospects improved in Swindon, also meant less time and energy to devote to community activity. Funding, less from the Borough and more from the Lottery meant a vast skills increase needed to ‘download’ grants and more evaluation and monitoring – not what people volunteer to do!
Change 3. The Borough became poorer and sought land in their ownership for sale or to barter.
Change 4. Despite the development to the north (the size of Salisbury), the pressure was/is still on to infill on brownfield sites and it became apparent that the answer to every problem on Penhill is to ‘build on it’. I.e. fly-tipping on a backland site (build on it then they can’t dump) untidy, vandalised garage blocks (knock them down and build on the site) problem area around shops, (knock them down and re-develop). The pressures therefore are to find and build on ‘infill’ sites in Penhill are a further serious threat to the quality of life, with an added burden on our services and roads.
Penhills' best asset is it’s design and open spaces.
Designed after the 2nd World War to a specific standard, building in aspects that would enable it to be more sustainable should there be another war!. Unique in Swindon for Social Housing built on a hill – it was designed to give as many homes as possible a south facing aspect, good sized gardens etc. Penhill is fortunate in its open spaces including several backland (proposed allotments) sites, it is an especially wildlife rich area with the Seven Fields LNR to the south and the Groundwell Brook and ancient Parish Boundary hedgerow to the North West, (both with existing community involvement) it’s mature street trees and open spaces all add to the quality of life for residents.
The community realised that pressure to develop and re-develop could over-rule any future opportunity to replace or provide new play or sports facilitates/activities. The official reasoning was that there was no funds at present to provide and more importantly maintain, for instance, play equipment.
Penhill Forum Steering Group recognised the need to have a strategic plan for the future. In January 2001 the 10 year old Forum was given a small fund to consult with the wider community. During the this process of surveying and consulting, other opportunities arose, i.e. the gaining of funds for a purpose built ITC centre and no sooner was it built than the necessity for more room for a crèche was identified. Remembering how job opportunities were built out of the northern development, development without a community strategy could ‘build out’ opportunities to provide that which the community needs to further its own aims and aspirations.
Nationally there is a widespread apathy towards involvement in anything outside the home and family and our biggest challenge has been, and will be, to get people out and caring about what happens to them and their neighbourhood. The next challenge would be to inform them on the issues which need their attention.
In September 2001, with the Fairshares Lottery funding announcement, came the opportunity to draw together many people, surveys and consultation taking place and write a draft strategy/plan. Work has continued on consultation.
This Community Plan/strategy would have happened without the Fairshares funding and should not depend upon it. Fairshares is to be used to build up the community ability to draw down other funding.
Our intention is that this plan will inform all workers and Councillors to the wishes of the Penhill Community. We hope that it will stop knee jerk reactions and bring about a greater say for local people, giving them a stake in their community and encourage activity, proving that they can make a difference by that activity. We would expect to see the difference made by organisations working on and for the estate in allowing residents to take a stakehold in the management of their services.
How did we find out community priorities?
In July 2000 a resident satisfaction survey was undertaken by a local community worker using a questionnaire and interviews with residents. 100 responses were obtained. Key findings were that the quality of the street lighting and refuse collection is good, the range of local shops, car parking and the cleanliness of streets and verges were adequate. However many respondents said that children’s’ playgrounds and facilities for young people were unsatisfactory.
In 2002 the Council undertook a quality of life survey of residents living near Braydon Court. A total of 41 questionnaires were returned. The key issues which emerged were concerns about crime and public safety, drink and drugs and abusive or threatening behaviour.
In February 2002 the Penhill Forum initiated a community consultation exercise using a questionnaire distributed to every home in Penhill. Questions were provided by several groups and agencies such as the Penhill Learning Group, the Play Service and the Crime and Disorder team. A total of 99 questionnaires were returned. The survey was followed by several community consultations ‘Have a Say Days’. This provided an opportunity for residents of Penhill to discuss local issues with councillors, community workers, and council officers. The key issues which emerged from the consultations were litter and the unkempt appearance of the estate, the low quality of the built environment, parking on grass verges and a shortage of alternative parking space, vandalism and anti social behaviour, loss or under use of green spaces, lack of leisure facilities, unresponsiveness of public transport to community needs, fear of crime and concerns about public safety and a shortage of public spaces and buildings.
It was the Forum’s hope that the consultation process would also help to identify individuals with particular areas of interest and expertise and would serve as a springboard to further involvement in community affairs. A number of prizes were offered for imaginative responses to the consultation including a family trip to @ Bristol. This was organised with the intention of inspiring people to think creatively about local issues and encouraging participation in the regeneration and renewal process.
In 2002 the Council’s play development team undertook a further informal survey about new play and after school facilities by interviewing children, young people and families. The ideas which attracted most interest were a staffed adventure playground, a skateboard park, a paddling pool and an after school club. These were followed in 2004 with a series of Planning for Real @Seven Fields exercises, organised by the Penhill Forum Play and youth sub group, specifically aimed at ideas for the Seven Fields Park/Play area and to consult with other communities affected by any suggestions.
A survey about childcare in Penhill and Pinehurst was undertaken by Surestart in September 2001. 59 responses from families in Pinehurst and 63 responses from Penhill were obtained. 20% of families used childcare and 53 % of respondents reported that would they would need childcare within the next three years. 31 respondents expressed a preference for nursery care and 22 respondents expressed a preference for childminder. Surestart move to the Penhill Community Centre and a new Nursery opens in May, 2004.
In the first quarter of 2002 the Penhill Healthy Food Forum undertook a survey of food shopping and food consumption in Penhill. A total of 70 residents responded and two discussion groups were held. All of the respondents did their main food shopping outside of the ward . 38% of respondents purchased food from mobile traders and 39% stated that they would like to purchase fresh food locally but found this difficult. 25% of respondents reported that they grew some vegetables. Penhill Orchard groups and an Healthy Eating Group were developed
A 20 mph child casualty reduction scheme survey was undertaken by the council in the first quarter of 2002. 2200 questionnaires were delivered to homes in Penhill and 447 replies were received. 82% of respondents were in favour of the 20mph zone. The Zone and traffic calming were introduced in 2003 – it proves unpopular!.
Since 2001through the Penhill Neighbourhood Safety Team, there has been a considerable amount of work and a voice given to those who suffer from anti-social behaviour.
September 2003 to January 2004 Wiltshire and Swindon Community Foundation, sent a Consultant (Sue Webber) to Penhill find out the Community priorities for the Fairshares Funding.
The following are considered to be the barriers to a successful renewal process.
Apathy, a can’t do/won’t do/can’t be bothered attitude.
No distinction as a separate community by those planning services
Distance to many facilities: to reach anything, shopping, Leisure, Hospital, NHS Dentist and most work opportunities all involve travel.
Lack of easily accessible ,local reasonably priced shopping, work opportunities, Leisure facilities.
Lack of affordable transport between areas and
Penhill’s gradients – Valley, South banks, upper Penhill etc.,
Poor neighbourhood image and self image.
Lack of understanding of the Renewal process at all levels.
Prejudice:- Unhelpful mindsets, lack of aspirations for others. This was felt to be mainly a worker problem.
What concerned the community
The Consultations identified the following areas of concern
Communication and co-operation
Civic pride image
Play and youth
Environment and built environment
Other recent concerns identified by the Forum Steering Group
Community Safety) identified via recent new legislation enabling more people to speak up after consultations – more research needed.
Health Issues ) identified as a concern in the census - more research needed .
We ask that these two issues are kept in mind by all agencies working in the above subgroups of the Penhill Forum
Nothing can be done without the spread and cross pollination of information and engaging the community, so the challenge is to:
 Create sustainable ways of communicating
 Develop ways of communicating with wider community
 Develop image control strategy
 Develop the community and organisation capacity for two way communication
Best services will not happen until we have better co-operation and partnership working between local organisations, paid workers, volunteers and community groups, so the challenge is to:
 Build mutual respect between all workers (paid and unpaid)
 Get workers to realise the benefits of attending quarterly round the table meetings
 Develop goodwill
 Breakdown Penhill geographical divisions.
Education: including lifelong learning.
The challenge is to:
 Have all education valued
 Have locally provided learning opportunities
 be Lifelong – opportunities from the cradle to the grave and from basics to Degree level.
 be Accessible – physically and mentally
 be relevant to the needs of the community
 Include both personal and community development
Neighbourhood pride and image
The challenge to get rid of the stigma is to:
 Develop an agreed approach to all news stories about Penhill
 Educate the media.
 Encouraging the promotion of good/success stories (without being patronising).
 Community focal points need to look good – entrances, centre, shops
 Employ a image manager to ensure that all good news stories are that and not twisted to add to the stigma.
And……the greatest of these concerns is:
Children and Youth
The challenge is to provide good leisure facilities that are:
 They should be local
 They should be affordable and accessible
 They should be valued and promote good citizenship
 They should meet community needs i.e. opening times
 They should give young people a voice and chance to participate
 They should develop young people to help them make good choices
Environment - including built environment’
The challenge to protecting our green environment, clean air, hygienic streets etc., is:
 Things that make Penhill a pleasant place in which to live should remain valued
 To ensure considerable thought goes into the effects and planning of any new development or redevelopment .
 Ensure Best Practice by consultation with local partners to provide a *sustainable future.
 Any new or redevelopment should meet community’s needs and agenda.
 By example any developer or redeveloper should show respect
 for our community and environment.
 Any development or redevelopment should take into account any wildlife and protect that which is vulnerable and enhance any development with environmental issues in mind.
*Sustainable development means: If something is sustainable, it means we can go on doing it indefinitely. If it isn't, we can't - Jonathon Porritt.
Dictionary definition: endurable.
The challenge to provide better transport services are that:
 It should suit communities needs
 Be affordable
 Link communities, facilities, shopping & Health Centres services
 Improve walking and cycling routes
Health and Crime and Disorder
should be a concern
and taken into account
across all the areas.
More consultation needed (unless it has already been done and not shared with the Forum!