Royds – all together better
Royds is the story of a community that refused to fall behind. Instead, the area is now a respected national beacon for successful economic and social regeneration along with step change in the life opportunities for local people.
Royds Community Association, which now employs 12 staff, was first established in 1992 and just three years later, led a successful bid for government funding to transform the fortunes of three local authority housing estates in Bradford’s Royds ward – Buttershaw, Woodside and Delph.
At the time, the estates of 1950s and 60s housing were drab and run down. Male unemployment was running at 47 per cent. Crime, drug abuse and anti-social behaviour contributed to an intimidating environment of deprivation in an area where green spaces were unmanaged and community facilities were few and far between.
Such was the strength of local residents’ case and their vision for their area that the entire £31 million Single Regeneration Budget was awarded to the Community Association. While other partners, including local businesses, were represented on the Association’s Board, democratically-elected local residents were in the majority – making Royds unique as the only fully community-led SRB initiative in the country.
The Royds Community Association’s plans become reality over following years initially culminating in national recognition in 1997 when the Royds Regeneration Project won the Royal Town Planning Institute Award for community-led regeneration.
Judges praised the project for its innovative approach to empowering local people to take control of their own destiny by taking direct community ownership of process, development and delivery of the scheme through their community association.
The programme of physical refurbishment, which included new housing, new building refurbishment and selective demolition, was matched with social and economic regeneration through improved services, new community centres, crime reduction and support for employment opportunities including training, an employers’ club and business development grants.
SRB funding ended in 2002. But though the money had run out, the Royds community was determined write the next chapter by becoming fully self-sufficient.
By then the momentum and regeneration success had already attracted additional private sector and developer investment totalling £100 million along with £15 million of local authority funding and further funding from organisations such as English Partnerships, the National Lottery and the Skills and Funding agency along with many smaller funders.
Notable milestones included the building of 2,000 new homes, the refurbishment of 3,000 properties, 400 jobs secured by previously unemployed local residents and 1700 schoolchildren taking advantage of six Homework Clubs along with the opening of the Royds Healthy Living Centre and a variety of clubs and groups established at Royds Community Centres.
Royds has always been an organisation that looks to the future and rental and hire returns from the community assets built up by the Association – including new community, sports, and health centres, a café and a £1.5million shopping parade – helped provide a financially sustainable base following the ending of government funding.
Income is supplemented by the proceeds of consultancy services and involvement in community support programme partnerships but the primary engine for continuing investment in community support is now the 70,000 sq. ft. Royds Enterprise Park – a purpose-built, secure-by-design development of smart modern offices, conference and meeting rooms and business workshop units.
The £5 million Enterprise Park, opened by Royds Community Association in 2003, now provides employment for over 300 local people and is home to a diverse range of thriving businesses with a combined annual turnover of £66 million.
The 48-unit Park has proved a hit with both start-up businesses and larger, more established firms with the facilities available playing a major part in their business success.
But all also credit the strong sense of community Royds fosters – each feels as much a part of the local community as the business community.
Whether for local residents or local businesses, working together for the benefit of all continues to be at the heart of the Royds ethos.