‘Worst first approach’ to regeneration ‘not working’
Proactive and preventative policies to create mixed communities should be the top priority for regeneration and growth strategies, argues a new piece of research
The ‘worst-first’ social welfare approach to regeneration is increasingly shown to be unsuccessful in the longer term and should be replaced by a new socio-economic model, which aims to proactively boost and capture land and property value for the public good.
Author of the discussion paper for the TCPA Tomorrow Series, Julie Cowans says:
“A new rationale for intervention is needed, which puts the creation and maintenance of value at the heart of strategies.
“This will require some difficult decisions on which neighbourhoods to prioritise for intervention. In the longer term it may be more effective for the worst estates to wait until surrounding cusp estates are at a level which will support and attract regeneration investment.”
The new report, ‘Cities and regions of sustainable communities – new strategies’ highlights how improving schools, transport links and green spaces are critical to attracting better-off families to help boost neighbourhood value.
Ms Cowans added, “Good schools, community safety, neighbourhood perception, infrastructure and green spaces are vital for attracting better off families, avoiding concentrations of deprivation, and making neighbourhoods sustainable in the longer term. The challenge is to plan interventions deliberately with the aim of enhancing value, and then to capture the increased land and property value. This can then be channelled into sub market activity – such as the affordable housing sector.”
On ‘preventative policies’ Ms Cowans said excellent policies for reducing concentrations of poverty are emerging where vacant dwellings in mono-tenure, social housing schemes on the ‘cusp’ of decline are sold on the open market in order to attract higher-income households.
She stressed that the receipts from such sales need to be more creatively recycled to ensure a growth – not a reduction – in the affordable housing sector.
The report argues that the fifty year-old policy framework for housing and regeneration is outdated and should be replaced by a new set of strategic urban planning policies. It highlights the use of new techniques such as data-mapping as well as newly emerging evidence for the positive correlation between immigration and the successful transformation of failing economies.
Research conclusions were drawn from literature analysis, dialogue with over 120 experts, and site visits to over 50 growth and regeneration schemes across North America, Northern Europe, New Zealand and Australia.