Coopers Edge Trust was formed in 2010, soon after the Coopers Edge development, an urban extension of around 2,000 homes on the edge of Gloucester, began. The Trust was initiated by an informal group of residents who came together during the early stages of the development to get to know each other and for the best interests of the expanding community.
The Trust represented the resident’s interests, ensuring that the provision of community facilities under the terms of the Section 106 agreement was delivered. Some of the issues that the Trust has dealt with are problems arising from its footprint falling into three local council areas. Funding for a community organiser helped overcome these issues.
The Coopers Edge development should be completed in 2019, with 1,900 homes and around 5000 residents. Delays were caused by the financial crash during 2007 and 2008. The development is owned by
a consortium of house builders who market the development collectively as Coopers Edge, which has given the site a sense of identity. The development borders two borough and district councils, with a further three parish council boundaries included within the community.
Tensions with district and parish boundaries have emerged, particularly in the early days of the development. Relationships had to be developed with neighbouring parishes that had previously opposed the development but whose footprint now included parts of the site. A Community Organiser was appointed for a year through NESTA’s Neighbourhood Challenge programme, with the capacity to attend meetings and represent the community. This role also proved essential in resolving the confusion over Section 106 trigger points, with a lack of clarity over which of the three local councils that the site falls into were responsible for various infrastructure commitments. At this early stage there were also some problems with infrastructure provision following the 2007-08 financial crash.
There are a number of groups within Coopers Edge that have evolved over the years as the needs of the community have changed. In 2008 the Coopers Edge School Parent Community Group was set up to bid to run the proposed primary school. It changed its name to The Coopers Edge Trust (TCET) in 2010. It now has responsibility for the school building and facilities, and for facilitating other groups and raising funds.
The group identified that a more informal group was needed to make sure that wider community activities continue and the Coopers Edge Community Group (CECG) was set up with its own legal identity and Trustees. This group now is responsible for empowering community members and encouraging them to be actively involved in their community.
A successful funding bid to NESTA’s Neighbourhood Challenge Programme established a temporary community centre with a full-time member of staff to help community engagement and running activities. This project ran for a year. Many community activities have since emerged as a result of the investment from NESTA, including a football club and a social enterprise that offers gardening services. Residents have also come together to run community clean up days and participate in guerrilla gardening. (2)
The aims of Coopers Edge Trust are to foster and encourage community engagement and help the community to:
• Be Healthy
• Live in a safe Community
• Make a positive contribution to the community
• Achieve economic wellbeing
The Trust has four Trustees currently and is actively recruiting more, three appointed by The Community Group and one by the School Governing body.
The Trust’s assets including a primary school and a lease on a community centre, which includes an indoor sports area and a café. Stroud Council owns the building and the Trust has an option to buy the building in the future. The Trust employs two members of staff.