Canklow community engagement



Empowering Communities

The outcome of this project was the formation of a master plan that could be passed on to local authorities in order to inform future development. The physical impact of the master plan was minimal, with few of the proposals being developed by local authorities. There were a number of intangible outcomes that demonstrate its real success.

The project shows how prolonged and sensitive community engagement can revive the collective vision of a community and empower its residents to be active contributors to its future. Aside from the personal development of the key residents group (a number of participants saw the experience as a stepping stone to further education and have gone on to achieve qualifications) the project has proved to be influential shaping Canklow’s future. As Leo Care of BDR states, the levels of community-led activity in the small estate forced local authorities to “sit-up and take notice of Canklow”, exchanging an era of demolition for investment into a local master plan which included the building of a new housing scheme, although regretfully without real input from the community. Canklow were one of the first community’s to receive new housing as part of the Rotherham Housing Market renewal scheme. Through brief building and design exercises, local people were involved in a form of training program, building their capacity and allowing them to lead the project.

Sustainable Communities

The community-led Canklow regeneration project demonstrated to local authorities that Canklow is an active and live community. Through educating local people about elements needed in order to secure a sustainable community, Canklow were in the position to make greater demands from their local authorities and show that they were no longer going to take a back-seat in the community’s future. A number of key features were highlighted as necessary in achieving a sustainable community including:

  • affordable, sustainable housing
  • utilisation of the local greenery, wildlife and nature
  • community facilities/ hub
  • clear routes through the estate
  • community bus route
  • local shops
  • improved lighting

Aside from the sustainable housing development, few of these changes have commenced to date. However, BDR’s involvement in strengthening the Community Partnership group ensured that even after BDR were no longer involved, the group have continued to be active. Representatives from the group are key member of a steering group that have steered funded activities such as the Development Framework, the Housing Needs Assessment for the area and the Stock Condition Survey. It is these activities that have resulted in further action by Rotherham Council, South Yorkshire Housing Association, local social landlords and private developers.

Joined-up Approach

The long-term tangible success of the project was reliant on how its findings could be integrated into a larger framework, requiring a joined-up approach. To a large extent, this was achieved in Canklow. The unusually long time span for this form of user consultation resulted in the creation of a vision that worked on a number of scales and that had been conceived by a number of people, to the credit of BDR’s commitment to the area.

Student involvement from the University of Sheffield drew connections between more radical ideas of community empowerment and participation, to how these could be disseminated and effect the real context of Canklow, through involvement with the community partnership. The introduction of student involvement in the project lifted local aspirations and introduced new communication methods to the community.

To some extent, thorough documentation and analysis of the project stages also meant that the information could go on to inform future development, notably the housing scheme by Cartwright Pickard Architects.

However, while the community vision went on to inform Canklow’s formal master plan, ultimately the control was taken out of the hands of the community and placed into the hands of a normative LA / developer partnership due to inconsistencies in government funding priorities. The various funding streams through which the partnership operated meant that the group had little formal backing from any major organisation; rather their progress was seen as a succession of individual projects.