Bolsover Regeneration

This case study shows how a community-led regeneration framework was developed for four towns in the Bolsover District.

Location: Bolsover, Derbyshire, UK


Bolsover District has been changing rapidly. The proximity to the M1 corridor focused major investment, and further growth is predicted with the population set to increase from 8,000 to 84,000 by 2030. However, it has also suffered from the decline in industries such as textiles and coal mining.

To support the preparation of a new Local Plan for Bolsover District, the council invited Bauman Lyons Architects and other collaborators to develop a Community-Led Regeneration Framework for the next 15 years for four main towns in the Bolsover District: Shirecliffe, Clowne, Bolsover and South Normanton.

The framework – Sharing Bolsover – is guided by principles of placemaking and was developed using the ideas and priorities proposed by the communities that live and work in these districts.

Project details

The Sharing Bolsover vision is for a flexible framework that builds on the diverse character of the existing towns and surrounding villages, whilst enhancing the offer in the four town centres through four distinctive, high quality environments that will attract a diversity of housing, retail and workspace.

“This Regeneration Framework has sought to bring together the District’s local communities and the Council and its partner organisations in order to understand the making of place in a strategic and holistic manner, identifying priorities and potential projects to help foster a greater sense of place.” (4)

“Proposed improvements to physical connectivity will enable villages to access and benefit from these investments and to contribute to rise of a vibrant local economy and of increasing sense of civic pride.” (1)

Three principles underpin the Regeneration Framework:
1. Building on what we have
2. Embracing the future
3. Two hands clapping: Co-producing regeneration

“The strategy addresses the current weaknesses and barriers to community prosperity by recommending a range of sustainable enhancements to existing initiatives, organisations, projects and of physical and human assets”. (4)

In this project, the local community is seen as a key stakeholder within the process of developing a shared vision for the regeneration: “It is increasingly recognised that many of the ‘top down’ strategies have not delivered sustainable regeneration, whilst many bottom up initiatives have been short lived. Neither approach is suitable on its own to deliver regeneration in Bolsover, but as the public sector resources dwindle and communities increasingly deliver ground breaking projects and services, they should be incited as partners to deliver place based regeneration: two hands clapping to support long term transformation.” (4)

The project also envisions local groups playing a key role in delivering the regeneration by, “embracing collaborative practices between the Council and local communities”. (4) For example, this may involve the management and ownership of new community assets through Cooperative Land Trusts or Community Development Trusts: “These organisations utilise the existing civic networks and skills to build on a host of existing community based initiatives”. (4)

Key Details

Who are the key stakeholders involved?

• Bolsover District Council
• Architects – Bauman Lyons
• Camlin Lonsdale
• Yvonne Deane Associates
• Accend

Community involvement

“Public engagement was huge in this project…we believe in it and we know how to do it and we think it is very effective” (Irena Bauman, director of Bauman Lyons architects). (3)

On one particular site – Sherwood Lodge – it was a challenge to get the local community involved. Bauman Lyons collected 20 to 30 stories from local businesses, which they used to create an exhibition. This was used to stimulate public interest and make new connections. A series of structured workshops were then organised with community groups, local traders, and local authorities, and one of these was open to the public.

According to Irena Bauman, there were a number of significant benefits to the community involvment organised in this project:

1. Connecting: Through the engagement process they created opportunities for bringing together different sectors of the community. They created platforms of all layers of local governance: Parish Town Councils, Local Authority and District Authority and brought them together with officers from all departments, traders and business community from 4 different towns within the borough, third sector organisations and individual activist citizens. They connected them through a joined conversation.
2. Noticing: They used methods of engagement that they devised themselves – such as Picture and Story – to engage directly with citizens. They also used tried and tested methodologies such as the Placeshaper process – a day of activities that included walkabouts with mixed groups of citizens and officials revisiting their own town centres and analysing the positive and negative aspects noticing in the process special assets new opportunities.
3. Learning: The entire methodology of engagement described above and the presence of them as outsider consultants, created an exceptional learning environment where tacit and expert knowledge informed each other.
4. Being Active: All those involved in the engagement process felt that they were actively participating in shaping their place and contributing to a better future.
5. Giving: All those involved contributed freely their time and knowledge towards common purpose.

So what?

What were the challenges for initiating and implementing this community-led approach?

According to Irena Bauman, it was challenging to work with different layers of governance at the council as there were sometimes different priorities and ways of working. For example, there wasn’t an existing culture of working closely with residents. As a result, residents’ ability to know what is best for them and their ability to create positive change was sometimes underestimated. The Parish Town Council also believed in the power of the retail sector to create regeneration and therefore prioritised securing a deal for a major supermarket. However this was in conflict with the efforts of the officers for a multi-layered, multi-sectoral approach to regeneration.

Key learning for Gloucestershire Agencies?

“Regeneration Frameworks have traditionally been devised at arm’s length from the very communities for whom they are intended. To be successful, regeneration has to be rooted in local knowledge and the understanding of the needs, the qualities and the place specific opportunities of each unique town and village.” (4)

According to Irena Bauman, “there needs to be a political buy-in across all scales of governance before business community, citizens and the third sector organizations are invted in to participate in place shaping.” (5)

Source/s of information

(1) Bauman Lyons Architects Website:

(2) Bolsover District Regeneration Framework:

(3) Bolsover District Regeneration

Framework Film:

(4) Bolsover District Regeneration Framework: Shirebrook