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You are here: Home > Community – Partnerships – Regeneration – CPR that changed many, many lives

Community – Partnerships – Regeneration – CPR that changed many, many lives

Thu 23rd February

This story is about changing the face of a community, of how when 908 families faced seeing their homes demolished became the reason why more than 870 homes have been built, all through the work of a community group, the Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) 

WL_new.jpgPerry Common is an urban estate North East of Birmingham City Centre. In the late 80s, a significant part of the council housing in the estate, property built in the 1920’s, was found to be structurally unsound. Some residents had bought their homes but all were faced with losing them.

There was no public funding available (at the time) for their regeneration. This was nothing like the situation of the ‘PathFinder’ initiatives from the last decade, projects which did have finance but some of which resulted in ridiculous costs and have devastated communities by dispersal of long established residents.

WL_old.jpgWitton Lodge Community Association was formed in 1994, bringing together four residents groups. It is undoubtedly the reason why Perry Common is an example to any community of how to succeed in developing – and re-developing – a place which its residents are more than proud to call their home.

WLCA had help from many partners, right from its inception, most notably Birmingham City Council. It was called an ‘experiment’ at the time but its whole history is that of a sound business plan completely driven by community involvement (more later). Birmingham City Council gifted the land to WLCA, the proceeds of which (including some sold to private developers for homes to buy) were used to fund new build rental property and to develop community infrastructure.

The council did more than just provide land, it helped with design management and other services, and until 2006 was able to continue to grant land identified for housing to the Association. Other finance came from loans obtained from Nationwide, plus external grant funding from several other sources.

WL_SC.jpgWitton Lodge was not the first association of its kind. The inspiration came from Stockfield, in nearby Acock’s Green. Residents of Perry Common felt they could do the same and in less than five years, they were the driving force behind rebuilding and developing new homes, improvements to roads,  play areas,  community facilities and more recently to making the most of Open Space provision. They can show many examples of how they have created a safer, more attractive and environmentally friendly community.

If you would like to find out more about Perry Common, CLICK HERE, to go to the Witton Lodge Community Association Web Site. THIS LINK will take you directly to the a PDF of the story so far and for anyone interested in Extra Care do make sure you read about Sycamore Court.

This feature could not finish without introducing one of the people who were responsible for all this work. Meet Linda Hines, Housewife and Director extraordinaire –

Linda – what did you think the first time you heard about what was proposed?

I was angry and only wanted to know how it would affect MY family.

When you decided to become involved, how much support did you have from family and friends – and from outside the new group?

My late husband became a Director as well so that was useful as we could discuss WLCA business. My friends and some family members thought I was mad getting involved.

Can you give us an idea of what your day-to-day commitment is like at present? What plans does the Association have for the future?

I have always said that my commitment is my choice and at the moment I’m doing about 35 hours a week.

Our plans are multitudinous! That’s a big word but it’s true. We are just reviewing our Business Plan for the next 3 years and I’m sure that many new and exciting projects will flow from this.

Our thanks go to Witton Lodge Community Association and to Linda for their help in producing this feature and use of their pictures. Could something like this happen here in Stratford?

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