Collyhurst Big Local – rebuilding identity and growing the local economy

Collyhurst is an inner-city area north of Manchester City Centre with a population of 3097. In 2013, Collyhurst became a Big Local area, a partnership of tenants, businesses, schools and agencies, with a vision to improve the quality of life in Collyhurst.

Collyhurst Big Local participated in the first year of the Community Economic Development (CED) programme in order to rebuild the identity of the area and explore the area’s economic strengths. Collyhurst Big Local’s CED plan is rooted in a holistic and participative approach to economic change and brings together local centres/facilities, local entrepreneurship, employment support, connection to the city centre’s expansion, young people’s role in economic development and financial inclusion.

Context and area description

There are few businesses in Collyhurst with the majority of the area taken up with social housing and tower blocks. Two thirds of the housing in the area is owned by Manchester City Council. The main public facility in Collyhurst is the new Manchester Communication Academy (MCA), a secondary school, which has a strong element of community work. Most of the local pubs have closed in recent years, as has the youth centre, and the area lacks facilities such as a small shopping centre with a café.

Collyhurst is mainly a white British community but in recent years, it has become significantly more multi-cultural with growing African/Caribbean (3.5%) and Asian (8.7%) communities. Collyhurst faces a number of economic challenges and is primarily spread over three Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs), according to the 2015 IMD.  One of these neighbourhoods is in the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods nationally and two in the 1% most deprived neighbourhoods in England. The number of people out of work has increased more rapidly over recent years than for Manchester as a whole and residents are also much more dependent on work in the declining manufacturing and repairs sectors. Out of all residents of working age (2,055) 49% are unemployed, with 23.1% in generally in unskilled manual occupations compared to just 11.1% nationally.

What has been achieved

Collyhurst Big Local is keen for the CED plan to sit alongside Manchester City Council’s ‘Northern Gateway’ plan, which would see NOMA, Angel Meadows, the Lower Irk Valley, Collyhurst and the area along Oldham and Rochdale Road joined together, with residential developments aimed at 20 and 30-somethings and families. Collyhurst Big Local held a facilitated workshop with Collyhurst residents, Manchester City Council, Northwards Housing, Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), Manchester Communication Academy, Big Local and Church of the Saviour and this helped them to identify three main priorities for their CED plan:

  • Foster growth of the local economy to encourage private, social and individual entrepreneurial business activity. For example, while construction is happening, Collyhurst Big Local wants to provide services like pop-up shops and temporary car parks.
  • Residents have a more effective voice in relation to the Manchester City Council’s Master plan and other council initiatives. For instance, the CED plan proposes running activities like resident engagement workshops and a feasibility study of ideas for a Community Land Trust.
  • Making the most of training, employment and resource opportunities that exist within Manchester City Council’s Master plan for Collyhurst. For example, the CED plan included a needs analysis of local job seekers, bespoke education and training packages, and activities that overlap with the first priority to promote growth of local business to contribute to local supply chains.

 “The things that need to be achieved really in Collyhurst are more local employment, better skills and opportunities with the upcoming construction that’s going to happen, which is part of the master plan of Collyhurst. And, then other things like bringing more services for existing residents to use, somewhere where people can actually spend the money that they do have.”  Margot Power, the Lead Professional for Collyhurst Big Local

Key learning

The technical support received as part of the CED programme helped the group to gain a better understanding of the local economy and how it fits with community development. They were reassured to hear that the sign of a thriving local economy is the well-being of the people. The triple bottom line fits well with their Big Local aspirations to enhance the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of local residents. For example, residents have been involved in growing local vegetables and running food workshops with help from Groundwork, an environmental regeneration charity. As well as recognising the wider health benefits, with the support of Co‑operatives UK, they are now developing the idea of setting up a community-owned shop to sell their locally grown produce.

The support from NEF, Key Fund and Co-operatives UK helped with setting out short, medium and long-term objectives and identifying potential funding for business development, financing and the development of co-operative retail. For example, a long-term objective (up to 8 years) is to set up a local Community Land Trust (CLT).

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