The Cowgate estate lies to the north of Newcastle between residential estates and the Town Moor. The Index of Multiple Deprivation (2007) identifies the southern part of the estate as the most deprived area in the city and 28th most deprived in England from 32,482 neighbourhoods. Although the northern end has relatively improved, this is marginal as it is still in the 100 most deprived neighbourhoods in England.
- 45% of the working age population are economically inactive against a city average of 18%
- Health deprivation is amongst the worst in the City
- 28.9% of school leavers are not in education, employment or training against a city average of 11%
The physical regeneration projects that have been carried out since the 1960s have done little to improve Cowgate’s underlying social and economic issues. There are low levels of community confidence in the police, Council and housing providers. The estate also suffers from high levels of crime and antisocial behaviour with residents being reluctant to report incidents.
Our approach to the regeneration of Cowgate is long term and focused on the needs in the community. It is based on the following principles:
- Ensuring that regeneration tackles the underlying economic challenges, in particular, supporting people to get a job and boosting levels of enterprise to increase social mobility
- Ensuring that regeneration investment is co-ordinated and prioritised in the right places, with public, private and third sector organisations working together in the same places towards a shared vision
- Involving and engaging people in the regeneration work and investing in Cowgate’s social capital, including setting the priorities, so that the solutions are sustainable.
Following these principles we have developed a strategy for Cowgate with residents, focused on the SCS themes. Key priority activities are as follows:
Increasing Newcastle Futures Programme. The current Newcastle Futures programme will be supplemented by an engagement team who will utilise not only local networks but also work to contact people who do not normally use local facilities.
Establishment of a new health centre in Cowgate/Blakelaw. The new health centre will improve access for patients to GP and other primary care services and deliver primary medical services that are tailored to local needs.
Deliver a programme of activity focused on improving health outcomes, concentrating on sport, physical activity and food at Kenton Park Sports Centre, Kenton School, Cowgate Neighbourhood Centre and Blakelaw Park
A range of measures to challenge anti social behaviour will be put in place, including youth diversion activities. The Safe Neighbourhoods Action and Problem Solving (SNAPS) group for Kenton Ward as well as the Safer Newcastle Stand Alone Problem Solving (SAPS) meetings will work to ensure that these measures are effective.
We will work to raise aspirations for young people through developing a range of mentoring and role model programmes to highlight and celebrate success.
Early on, activities were carried out in the estate to demonstrate partners’ commitment and create visible change at an early stage weekly walkabouts by partners and the delivery of two ‘Cowgate Fortnights’ where partners came together to work intensively on the estate. Weekly walkabouts have increased community confidence as staff are visible, approachable and can be easily contacted often leading to the resolution of issues quickly as well as enhancing local knowledge.
A key priority of partners has been to invest in the social capital of the estate to provide long term sustainable solutions. Our activity in Cowgate is supported by longer term investment to develop community involvement and engagement. Residents in Cowgate will come together at a community Udecide event to discuss and vote on how to spend £30,000 grant funding from Northumbria Police. The police decided to use the Udecide model to improve residents’ engagement with local agencies. The project fits with the broader aims for the estate set out in the Cowgate Regeneration Strategy and all partners have been involved in the drive to engage local residents in coming forward with their issues and concerns.