As part of the strategy development process an agreed SWOT analysis was carried out. This analysis presents the challenges and opportunities facing the Colin community. In addition the section includes an outline of the Needs of the community and a timeframe within which some of the needs can be realistically addressed.
a large population – this means that the area has a large enough group of people to justify the location of services and facilities in the area; and
a young population – this means that the Colin Neighbourhood is a community that will continue to grow and develop. It also means that the area will have a growing economically active population in the medium to long term.
a resourceful community – the area has energetic and committed individuals, community groups, businesses and churches/parishes. However, the number of these organisations is quite small and those that are in existence require support;
a good standard of housing; and
good local schools, which provide a good standard of educational provision and have developed good links with the community.
the geographical location of the Colin Neighbourhood is close to Belfast and Lisburn, which means that it is:
- close to industrial/employment areas;
- close to environmental assets; and
- close to important transport links such as the M1, the railway and the airport.
when well maintained, the physical environment of the Colin Neighbourhood can be attractive and have a high degree of historical and cultural interest.
there is a sense of powerlessness in individuals, families and the community as a whole; and
parts of the Colin Neighbourhood are demographically unbalanced, with extremely high concentrations of young families concentrated in small areas. This leads to conflict and tensions within the community.
Lack of Resources
the facilities for economic activity in the Colin Neighbourhood, such as the Springbank Industrial Estate and the Dairy Farm Centre, have not been fully utilised, and this results in the potential for local employment creation is not being realised;
there is a lack of facilities, services and infrastructure to meet the needs of the population (for example, only one health centre, only one secondary school, no social security office, etc);
inadequate resource allocations and fragmented service provision by statutory bodies (for example, four organisations have a role in cleaning and maintaining the area) do not meet the needs of the area;
the community infrastructure at local level (for example, in small local community based organisations) is unstable because new or small groups find it difficult to access support services;
the poor commercial performance of the Dairy Farm Centre; and
a difficult funding environment– the funding that is available for community based projects is mostly insecure or short term and this makes it difficult for worthwhile or successful project to continue operating.
Accessibility and Transport
local people face barriers when they need to access services that are only available outside the area, including transport problems, physical barriers that reduce the number of ways out of the area and social barriers, such as the ‘chill factor’ that discourage people from accessing the services; and
poor internal coherence – transport through the area is difficult, communities are physically separated by large expanses of open space, glens, wooded areas.
identity and image – both the ‘internal’ self image that people who live in the Colin Neighbourhood have of their area and the ‘external’ perceptions of the area held by people from outside it;
the Colin Neighbourhood’s sense of identity has not been firmly established;
high levels of anti-social behaviour (such as vandalism, car crime, alcohol abuse, etc) that are symptomatic of a lack of ‘civic pride’ in the Colin Neighbourhood. This is considered to be the major factor reducing the quality of life for residents; and
poor parenting and/or the absence of role models and/or a weak value system being communicated to young people from a wide range of directions has resulted in high levels of anti-social behaviour and the absence of a strong community identity.
develop the Dairy Farm Centre into a new Colin ‘town centre’ that would act as an economic and social ‘hub’ for the area;
substantial areas of land available for economic development (for example, Springbank Industrial Estate);
BMAP gives the community an opportunity to influence the land use and development agenda for the area; and
access to the Belfast Hills, which could be developed for tourism, environmental, economic and social uses that would benefit the community.
the community is becoming more settled, which will allow it to develop a new image/identity and the Colin Neighbourhood. This gives an opportunity to develop a sense of civic pride in the area and more of a sense of ownership and empowerment among the community;
the area’s size and population makes it an ideal environment to test out new or innovative approaches to dealing with issues (for example, the proposal for managing and cleaning the area as a social economy project); and
the young population and available land in the area should be attractive to inward investors and local small businesses.
Experience of Community Initiatives
the foundations are in place to allow a good, strong, multi-agency approach to dealing with the needs of young people to be developed – for example, SureStart, good schools with strong links to the community;
the Colin Neighbourhood Initiative has brought together a wide range of local interest groups and allowed them to share their ideas and work together. This has generated momentum and a sense of achievement. There is an opportunity to build on this growing optimism; and
community based initiatives on a range of issues such as education, the environment, women’s issues and crime and anti-social behaviour have been successful and could be built upon.
Legal / Political Issues
a range of funding sources that could provide significant support for the area, such as BRO, the National Lottery funding distributors, the Executive Programme Funds, the Common Ground Consortium and the Neighbourhood Renewal approach;
the new political institutions give local people more access to decision making processes; and
in the event that the policing issue is resolved, there is a range of well established community initiatives and activities that could be developed into a strong community-police liaison network.
housing and population growth could continue without the supporting infrastructure.
Civic Society / Legal / Political
the community or local projects could find themselves unable to take advantage of the funding opportunities that exist;
the momentum of and investment made in Colin Neighbourhood Initiative could be easily lost and replaced with a sense of apathy. This could result in the new sense of community ownership not developing;
crime and anti-social behaviour could increase and further weaken the community, causing it to turn in on itself;
the collapse of the new political institutions would reduce the scope of the people of the area to effect changes through government structures; and
if the policing issue is not resolved in the short-term, there is a danger that crime, anti-social behaviour and drug problems could explode.
no change to the external perceptions of the area could restrict its development and continue to feed negative internal self images in the community; and
if the growing problems of alcohol and substance misuse and addiction are not tackled, they could create further social problems.
Lack of Engagement
failure to develop or implement a strong, coherent strategy for the regeneration of the area.
a lack of engagement by statutory bodies, government departments or the local authority in the development of the Colin Neighbourhood;
BMAP could set an inappropriate or damaging framework for land use in the area;
short-term funding arrangements for successful projects threatens their achievements and restricts their development and growth; and
if the Dairy Farm Centre does not develop into a new role as a ‘town centre’, the overall physical, economic and social revitalisation of the area would be held back.
1.2 Addressing the Needs and Issues
Figure 6.1 represents a perspective on how some of those issues which impact on the quality of life of residents might be addressed. The diagram shows how some issues can be tackled through immediate interventions while many others require more long term measures.