In this chapter we analyse the scope for socially innovative forms of strategic urban agency at the neighbourhood scale. Our focus here lies on integrated area development (Moulaert 2002) and socially creative strategies in post-industrial neighbourhoods that are subject to severe forms of socioeconomic decline and are confronted with increasing degrees of ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic diversity. What we are particularly interested in is how particular local social needs are identified and integrated in an urban renewal project for this type of neighbourhood. We will show that this requires a socially innovative approach to urban renewal, i.e. an approach that goes beyond mere physical urban planning interventions but also transforms existing localized social relations and community dynamics in ways that empower local communities to collectively identify and meet its needs. In what follows, we briefly engage with the literature on neo-communitarian strategies for urban renewal and community development and relate it to the social innovation literature. We then assess the social innovation potential of neo-communitarian urban renewal strategies in the Belgian city of Ghent, which has invested in community-based forms of urban planning for more than two decades and has developed quite a reputation in it (Stad Gent 2009).
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