The growth of cities has mirrored the success of entrepreneurial capitalism: efficient work places, skilled workers, national and multi-national firms plus good homes.
Whilst some have delighted in the triumph of global capitalism as being the surest creator of wealth and opportunity, for others it has led to bland, almost interchangeable high streets, dominated by the same shopping chains and centralised control.
Yet there is a quiet revolution underway which is encouraging a wider range of people to move into a city’s core – re-making local urban communities.
The Jewellery Quarter, already a unique neighbourhood, is at the forefront of localism and all the better for it.
In May 2011, Birmingham City Council encouraged the community to become custodians of the area and the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT) – a Community Interest Company (CIC) – was established.
This has been followed by the Trust working to devise a neighbourhood plan under the Localism Act which gives the community more rights and powers to set the rules for the planning and development of the Jewellery Quarter.
It means that current rules can be reviewed, new rules can be created and the future of an area is shaped by those who live and work there.
This Jewellery Quarter planning control is setting a tone which I expect to see mirrored across the city by the way it works with the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Forum which actively represents the interests of its 6,000 residents and the Jewellery Quarter social media resident group.
Localism means people investing in their area and having a say in how their community is run. In turn, this leads to investment, stability and the development of sustainable communities for the future.
It is personal and flexes to what local stakeholders want to see changed and maintained in the area where they live.
For example, at a local level the growth of farmers markets within cities is an obvious and very visible focus. For some, the goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local farmers are intertwined with opposition to the globalisation of agricultural products.
The Jewellery Quarter has its own personality, determined by those who choose to live and work in the area.
JQDT is making significant progress and the views of over 6,000 residents and businesses are being heard. Now it is for others across Birmingham to revitalise their communities. There is an appetite for doing so. It just needs the organisation and commitment to do so.