Withington Village Regeneration Partnership is a collective of local residents, businesses and other stakeholders who have joined forces to progress Withington.
The Withington Village Regeneration Partnership (WVRP) is a unique public/private community collaboration set up in 2017, with a vision to progress the regeneration and environmental improvement of Withington Village – a small district centre on the outskirts of Manchester city centre. The group consists of key stakeholders who have an interest in Withington Village including representatives of Manchester City Council, Southway Housing Association, The Christie Hospital, Withington Civic Society and - importantly - local traders and property owners. The Partnership has had a number of successes in the short time since they were founded. Not least the major success that subsequently led to the group’s formation, when in 2015 the local Withington Baths were saved from closure.
The group worked collectively to produce a business plan that was subsequently approved by the Council. A lease agreement was then reached which saw the group take over the day-to-day running of the historic leisure centre, saving it from closure.
The collectives/partnership(s) present in Withington have, over the last several years, evolved to a position where they can now instigate real structural change in their centre, liaising with the City Council to effect planning decisions, securing funding for physical regeneration, and organising to submit bids for significant funding from national Government. As such, they are a model for organised, collective community action.
The key resource is engaged and passionate stakeholders who care about where they live and are willing to invest time to make it better, as well as practical resources, such as expertise in the group and access to funding. The human resource and skill-set is paramount, other resources follow.
Evidence of success
Having saved the baths from closure, the group have transformed them into an important community hub, and now continue to make further strides in the centre through other initiatives.
The success of saving the Baths galvanised the group, who grew in number, involving more local businesses and stakeholders. Now known as the Withington Village Regeneration Partnership, their achievements have set in motion wider collaborative activity.
Management of stakeholders and balancing individual interests, securing necessary funding, ensuring that the group stays together and that people remain motivated to be involved.
Potential for learning or transfer
The following features of the practice can be interesting for other regions:
- Mix of stakeholders, i.e. not only retail businesses, but a broad variety of players;
- Range of interventions enacted by group, from the small-scale to the strategic;
- Relationship with local authority, and communication lines between two parties.