Residents Renewing Their City

The Story of Community Forum

A new report by Jon Stevens for Localise WM

LWM has just published ‘Residents Renewing Their City: The Story of Community Forum’, a fascinating account of how residents played a pivotal role in shaping and influencing Birmingham’s ground-breaking housing renewal programme that rehabilitated tens of thousands of older houses across the inner city in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

In a thought-provoking postscript, the report contrasts this period of active and constructive intervention in older housing by the City Council working in partnership with communities with the grim picture today. At that time, the council was able to access substantial government funding and by working with local communities and by using considerable ingenuity, it was able to transform whole areas of Birmingham. Today, with the council hamstrung and starved of resources and without government support of any kind, these areas are in decline with the only ‘investment’ coming from private landlords, who are once again reclaiming the inner city: a sad reflection on our times.

This timely report has been edited by Jon Stevens, an LWM Associate, and it has been jointly produced with the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Birmingham with funding from the Barrow Cadbury Trust.

‘Residents Renewing Their City: The Story of Community Forum’ has been very well received:

“This important book fills a gap. Recent accounts of housing policy are too focused on the role of central government and on pieces of legislation and there are too few accounts that highlight the importance of local action.”

– Professor Alan Murie, Emeritus Professor of Urban and Regional Studies, University of Birmingham.

 “I consider this account of the activities of Community Forum to be of high importance in that it sets the scene informally but with great clarity that led to the formation of the Urban Renewal Programme in Birmingham. It makes it clear that this huge endeavour set out to serve the community of the inner city and to base its policies on the aspirations and hopes of that community.”

– Ted Taylor, Former Chair of Birmingham’s Urban Renewal Sub-Committee

Jon Morris, Chair of LWM and a former Urban Renewal officer also endorses the report in his preface:

“It was inspirational to bring together the people from Community Forum and Urban Renewal to produce this report…hundreds of thousands of people benefited from the work of Urban Renewal and from the work of residents’ groups and Community Forum and they continue to benefit to this day. The report’s final section on what has happened since, show that those times still inspire people to action today.”

 About ‘Residents Renewing Their City: The Story of Community Forum’

Community Forum was a network of inner city residents’ associations and community groups that played a pivotal role in ensuring that local communities were effectively engaged in the implementation of Birmingham’s ground-breaking Urban Renewal Programme in the 1970’s through to the mid 1990’s.

Community Forum was formed in 1973 and, for the following 25 years, it had a significant influence on the overall shape and direction of the programme, on how key elements of the programme were delivered and on subsequent developments.

‘Residents Renewing Their City: The Story of Community Forum’ derives from a 40th anniversary event held to celebrate the achievements of Community Forum. Following the event, contributors rewrote and extended their presentations and additional material was added in the form of an introductory chapter and a postscript, which describes the state of urban renewal today and which highlights the need to once again engage local communities in the regeneration of Britain’s areas of older housing.

The 54-page report contains a foreword by Ted Taylor, former Chair of the Urban Renewal Sub Committee 1974-77 and a preface by Jon Morris, Chair of Localise West Midlands. The report has eight chapters, all written by people who were active in urban renewal and in community participation at that time.

  • Housing and urban policy in the late 1960’s and the growth of community action by Jon Stevens
  • Community Forum: genesis and early years 1973-1975 by Mike Gibson, founding member of Community Planning Associates
  • The development and achievements of Community Forum by Barry Toon, long-term Treasurer of Community Forum
  • Working for Community Forum 1975-1983 by Jon Stevens
  • Delivering the programme locally and in partnership with communities by Peter Archer, former Urban Renewal Project Team LeaderWorking for Community Forum 1984-1992 Frances Heywood, former Community Forum Worker
  • Independent funding for community action in Birmingham in the 1970’s and 1980’s by Eric Adams, former Assistant Secretary later Director of the Barrow Cadbury Trust
  • Postscript: the prospects for urban renewal in Birmingham and beyond by Jon Stevens.

‘Residents Renewing Their City: the Story of Community Forum’ is published in pdf and print formats. The pdf can be downloaded at the link above.

The print version costs £10 and can be purchased from the editor, Jon Stevens. Please contact Jon by email to order a copy or make an enquiry.