Talking about regeneration: Community-led economic development in Bristol


Bristol has always been at the forefront of innovative and experimental thinking in relation to many community-led initiatives.

Indeed, the ‘Bristol model’ was a phrase widely used among the national voluntary and community sector when describing ground-breaking initiatives like Victim Support, The Soil Association and Sustrans – that had been developed in the city and have now grown to become national organisations.

Here are two examples of how this community-led innovative thinking has linked to the neighbourhood economic development agenda in the south and north areas of the city.

In south Bristol the voluntary and community-led Greater Bedminster Community Partnership, working with the business community and statutory agencies, established a Business Improvement District in 2013.

This was initially funded nationally, as one of the first 13 Mary Portas projects in an effort to regenerate the retail sector, which, despite some decline, is the largest collective employer in south Bristol.

The Bedminster Town Team, as it is called, is itself a voluntary sector organisation and is now self-funded with a levy on larger businesses.  Voluntary, business and statutory bodies are currently collaborating on Let’s Walk Bedminster, a Green Capital sustainability project, which includes the aim of preserving local businesses within walking distance of residents.

In the north of the city, Ambition Lawrence Weston, an alliance of active citizens, came into being in response to community facilities either closing, or being threatened with closure, and residents feeling marginalised because of the lack of support for their peripheral estate from the centre.

Ambition Lawrence Weston took it upon themselves to develop a community plan, called ‘The Way Forward’, which looked to tackling and resolving these issues and concerns. The community plan is a long-term vision and commitment that will work towards improving the Lawrence Weston community through to 2023.

The plan includes everything that is relevant to the people who live and work in Lawrence Weston, from employment and playgrounds to the design of new buildings and new services for job seekers, young people and families.

It takes into consideration people’s views, likes and dislikes about their environment as well as the problems and opportunities in the community, what future development is needed in the neighbourhood, and how residents can help to support developments. You can find out more about the plan here.

Voscur is working with partners to support and develop this work across the city.

We will be highlighting examples of community-led economic development, as well as other approaches at a forthcoming event in the Greenway Centre Southmead, Bristol on 11th November 2015. You can find out more info by contacting



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