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The Origins of Impact Neighbourhood

The concept of an Impact Neighbourhood strategy has its roots in the fields of community development and urban planning and has evolved over time in response to changing social and economic conditions. At its core, an Impact Neighbourhood strategy is a comprehensive approach to improving the social, economic, and environmental conditions of a neighbourhood, with a focus on creating positive outcomes for all members of the community.

The strategy emerged in the late 20th century as a response to the challenges faced by many urban communities. In the post-war era, urban areas experienced significant economic and demographic changes, including suburbanisation and deindustrialisation, which led to the decline of many urban neighbourhoods. In response, urban planners and community development practitioners began to adopt a more holistic approach to neighbourhood revitalisation, recognising that economic development alone was not sufficient to address the complex social and environmental challenges facing urban communities.

The earliest iterations were characterised by a focus on physical revitalisation, including the development of affordable housing, parks and public spaces, and commercial and retail districts. These efforts were often led by local governments and community development organisations and were designed to attract new investment and residents to urban neighbourhoods. Over time, however, the approach evolved to encompass a broader range of social and economic issues, including education, health and wellness, transportation, and environmental sustainability. This shift reflected a growing recognition among urban planners and community development practitioners that neighbourhood revitalisation required a multi-sectoral approach, involving collaboration among a range of stakeholders, including local governments, community organisations, businesses, and residents.

Impact Neighbourhood thinking has been influenced by several key theories and frameworks. One of the most important is complex systems thinking, which emphasises the interconnectedness of social, economic, and environmental systems and the need for integrated approaches to address complex problems. Other key frameworks include social capital theory and network science, which emphasises the importance of relationships and networks in building strong communities, and the sustainable development framework, which seeks to create economic growth that is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.

As a concept, Impact Neighbourhood strategy continues to evolve as it is underpinned by constant learning and exploration, it remains an important tool for addressing the complex social and economic challenges facing urban communities and for promoting inclusive and sustainable urban development. It represents a significant shift in the way we think about community development, from a piecemeal approach to a comprehensive and integrated one. By engaging all stakeholders in a collaborative and holistic process, we can create positive outcomes that benefit the community with the potential to extend beyond those boundaries to influence change at a systemic level.


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