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“We need to come together”

Daphne (right) is a Director of Ambition Lawrence Weston
8 September 2023

This is the amazing story of a struggling estate on Bristol’s outskirts that defied the odds to become a beacon for community led social fairness and a just transition to net zero.

Lawrence Weston is a post-war housing estate of 7,000 people, five miles from the centre of Bristol. Deprivation levels here are amongst the highest in the UK, especially for skills, employment, health, income and crime.

“We need to come together”

Read the fascinating account of Lawrence Weston’s community-led journey towards social fairness a just transition to net zero.

But thanks to the efforts of many dynamic members of the community, Lawrence Weston has achieved extraordinary things: their own community climate action plan; an income stream from a nearby solar farm; a Neighbourhood Plan which includes sustainable design policies for new-build; a resident-led co-housing project.

Resident driven action

Many of these owe their existence to Ambition Lawrence Weston, a resident-driven organisation established in 2012 by a group of neighbours who wanted to make the area a better place to live, after a decline in local services. People like Jim and Daphne in the photo above. Daphne is a Director of Ambition Lawrence Weston and Jim co-runs the community’s Men in Sheds.

And in June 2023 their 100% community-led and owned wind turbine – the biggest onshore wind turbine in England – begin turning. It now generates enough clean electricity to power every home on the estate.

Drone-eye view of Lawrence Weston’s large community-owned wind turbine with the Severn Estuary in the background.
Lawrence Weston’s community wind turbine at Avonmouth. At 4.2 MB, this is the biggest community owned wind turbine in England.

Local Trust commissioned CSE to write an account of the community’s remarkable journey over the last decade. Using new and old interview material, articles, videos and blogs, Harriet Sansom has produced a fascinating and valuable narrative. It is not definitive, but it draws on the voices of the people and organisations who have been instrumental in making it happen.

Nothing short of astonishing

“What the people of Lawrence Weston have achieved is nothing short of astonishing”, says Harriet. “I hope others will follow their path to a community-led neighbourhood empowerment and a fair transition to net zero.”

CSE and Local Trust hope that readers of all types – community activists, organisations, local authorities, funders, decision-makers – are inspired by and learn from this story.

It’s not all about the wind turbine. Pictures in the gallery above show Nobby, who co-runs the community’s Men in Sheds; the Lawrence Weston Community Gardening Group enjoying the sun at the Baptist Church; and Lawrence Weston residents gardening and litter picking with charity Bristol Noise.

Read Harriet’s account here:

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