6: Community-led governance: Opportunities and constraints

The notion, and practice, of devolving power to communities is now widespread, and since 2010 has been a particularly important element of the reforms to urban governance instituted by successive UK Governments. There has been a great deal of entirely justifiable scepticism about this, but recent evidence suggests that there may be scope for some of the reforms, specifically new “Neighbourhood Plans”, to play a progressive and emancipatory role in cities. This chapter reviews the contested history of governance at the community scale, considering both the formal devolution of power and more radical community-led approaches. It contrasts a predominantly top-down approach in England with seemingly more genuine attempts at devolution elsewhere, and introduces empirical data on Neighbourhood Plans in urban areas.

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