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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Regeneration: how can we take it forward?

03/08/2016


Approaches to regeneration vary substantially from one location to another, but there are a number of common challenges which often need to be overcome. We've identified three top tips to help you push regeneration in your area.

Image of Poplar HARCARegeneration is firmly back on the political agenda, with government intending to make £140 million of loan funding available to kick-start the transformation of 100 estates. This is welcome, as research we have previously published with Poplar HARCA and Sheffield Hallam University has shown that housing-led regeneration is a good investment, and that a mix of public and private finance could help to get more schemes off the ground and to deliver more of the new homes that we badly need.

Attention now turns to the detail of the government’s plan - and this is absolutely vital. Schemes must be developed in the right way if they are to be successful and in particular if they are to benefit - rather than displace - existing communities. Housing organisations, working at a local level, will have a major role in ensuring this is the case.

To help, we have published a collection of case studies, based on our previous research, showing what effective regeneration can achieve and how it can be delivered. Of course, approaches vary substantially from one location to another, but there are a number of common challenges which often need to be overcome and our research identified three top tips to take forward regeneration in your area:

  1. Work with partners to develop a shared vision of the area

    Successful regeneration always involves partnership working between a number of organisations at a local level. Housing plays a vital role in this, and you may well find that you are particularly well placed to take the lead in working with the local community and in developing and driving forward a vision for the area. However, in many cases investment in other aspects of the local infrastructure, such as transport, is also vital in order to make regeneration viable, so a joined-up approach is essential.

    The first step is therefore to build relationships and to create forums for organisations to agree - and then collaborate on delivering - a vision for the area. The exact nature of these, the organisations involved and the specific roles of individual partners will vary significantly from area to area, but whatever approach you take needs to deliver effective local leadership to get regeneration activity off the ground.

  2. Invest in engaging with the existing local community

    While attracting new people into the area is often a legitimate objective, it’s vital that regeneration brings benefits for existing residents. Engaging with the local community and enabling them to take some ownership of plans is challenging and can be very labour intensive but it is also a hallmark of successful schemes.

    Many of the organisations we spoke to devoted considerable resources to making sure that they got this right. Where possible, using the same officers throughout the project, enabling them to develop a thorough knowledge of the local area and to build relationships and earn the trust of the local community over time can help with this - as can offering priority to local people to ensure that they benefit from new homes in their area.

  3. Develop a funding package that works for your area

    Financial concerns can also pose a significant obstacle to getting planned regeneration activity off the ground. The nature of the challenge varies significantly depending on the area. In some parts of the country, low land values can make it difficult to generate sufficient returns from things like building new homes for outright and shared ownership to cover their costs. In others, high up-front costs from, for example, buying land and owner-occupied homes can create cash-flow difficulties, even where the scheme will eventually generate a financial return.

There is no single ‘right’ answer to this and our case studies relied on funding from a number of different sources. This included both public and private investment, and with organisations often needing to develop a ‘cocktail’ of funds secured from different places.

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