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CABE praises community work in Glasgow

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March 1 2007

Neilston in Glasgow has been used as an example of how community groups can radically improve the design of public space in a new guide called It's our space produced by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).

The guide applauds the ambitions shown by the Neilston community project to transform public spaces, so they can become the heart of community life. Neilston has pockets of severe deprivation and high unemployment and the aim of the project is to re-design roads, streets, paths and parks so that public space becomes a focus for community life to develop.

As part of the project, villagers organised a year-long consultation to create opportunities for the community to reflect about the possibilities for development and change. Pauline Gallacher, volunteer project manager and local resident, said: 'New Neilston is a new way of place-making.  In this respect, inspirational design and planning will not add value to the project - they are the values of the project.' Gallacher began work on the Neilston project following her NESTA research fellowship on public space which investigated the successes and failure of the Glasgow 1999 new public spaces initiative.

It's our space is a guide for groups getting involved in a public space project. It intends to inspire local communities to demand high standards of design. The guide includes a series of case studies which community groups can use to draw on the experiences of others.

As part of the UK's local government white paper, Strong and prosperous communities, the government has recently made a commitment to encourage community groups to have greater control over how their local environment is managed and improved. Community groups nationwide are becoming involved in improving outdoor spaces, and a range of grants and funding programmes have been made available for this purpose. The Big Lottery is making £234 million available to help communities in England improve their environment between now and 2009.

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