In looking for potential sites for the project, one of the main criteria was a site that could provide a space for various boating, community and arts projects that could bring together the boating and land based communities, whilst being a living example of the transformation and sustainability that can be achieved through creative vision, volunteering and hard work.
This site is a prime example of a forgotten piece of industrial land, surrounded by new and planned housing developments, yet unlikely itself to be redeveloped. Rich in industrial history which has largely been forgotten yet entirely visible from the Canalside as an overgrown patch that is devoid of its historical context; its jewel being a long neglected but significant boat house falling into decay.
Having seen and being involved in what has been achieved and is currently underway in Digbeth in Birmingham our vision was to use this as a transferable template for this site, bringing the same creative and community vitality outwards along the canal network
The most significant ideas and influences that form part of this template and which we wish to incorporate into the way this site is developed are:
The concept of slow regeneration - Organically growing a site or area using the income from one project, rental or use to fund further development.
Using slow regeneration to provide a natural growth that does not force a strict vision upon a site but provides for a dynamic growth based on community needs and allows for creative uses that feed into the next project.
Encouraging the involvement of local Universities to use the site for student projects and case studies that can feed into the development of the site.
Allowing for mixed uses of a site between arts, business and community to encourage networking and knowledge sharing between users.
Providing flexible indoor spaces that allow for a variety of uses
Using ‘Light Touch’ restoration to preserve the character of the spaces
Appreciating that a mix of cultural, industrial and housing and boating in an area works to its benefit.
By creating a mix of uses, visitors are less intimidated by arts and culture and more likely to visit them.
That a canal acts as a draw and a focal point for visitors
That encouraging visiting boaters adds to the vibrancy and the economy of an area
That having boats moored has a positive effect on any anti-social behaviour in an area
That volunteering encourages a sense of ownership and discourages anti-social behaviour
That education about canals and local history can also develop a sense of ownership and community pride. We want people to explore and learn about the rich industrial history of the site and the area around it.
That linking up with existing art, creative and community projects within an area is important in creating a cohesive community and building a city-wide network.
We want to create a space where difference and different ideas are the norm.
We want to be eco zero waste site, putting an emphasis on reusing waste in imaginative and inventive ways.
We want to show it is possible to reclaim once polluted and derelict sites with little commercial potential and regenerate them as community and creative sites as a compliment to the surrounding environs.
We want to integrate with nature and have it as everyday experience on our site.
We want to encourage the community to plant and garden on whatever scale they are able at the site and at home.
We want to give a space to experiment with the arts and provide a flexible space to do so.
We want to provide a space for the community to engage with exhibitions and performance.
We want to provide a space for micro businesses to operate on a flexible basis and share ideas.
Why a Community Interest Company
As a community interest company Urban Moorings has a primary social objective to create an environmentally sustainable canal community.
The CIC framework allows the project to operate as a business with the objective of making profit; but rather than profits being paid to shareholders it must be reinvested back into the project.
Our business objectives are to generate funds through activities based on canal usage that we can then reinvested for the benefit of the local community through the redevelopment of the Horseley Fields site.
In redeveloping a derelict ‘Brownfield’ site into a ‘Green’ environmentally sound site we aim to tackle a wide range of social and environmental issues by using business solutions to achieve public good.
The CIC framework has a distinct and valuable role to play in helping create a strong, sustainable and socially inclusive economy.
The fact that community interest companies are subject to ongoing regulation by the CIC Regulator helps to create confidence in the integrity of a CIC.