Examination of Witness (Questions 480-485)|
WEDNESDAY 5 DECEMBER 2001
480. So could you itemise for the Committee
the factors that you take into account when assessing the desirability
of the site?
(Mr Stevenson) The reality is that the sites we are
talking about are not desirable at all. We have to make them so
and in order to make them so we have to take on events of considerable
scale so that we do make them desirable, we address market failure
and turn it around to market success. As Hulme and other schemes
have demonstrated, you can, by tackling it at the right level
and right quality, make these places into extremely desirable
locations. You have got a lot of work and a lot of years, five,
six, seven, eight years of development and maybe up to 1,000 homes
with all the related facilities have got to be created.
481. A couple of weeks ago we went down to the
East End to Tower Hamlets and we saw there the need for the creation
of large four or five-bedroomed properties. That would obviously
push up the density of an area. How keen are you as a company
to get involved in an area where there is a potential to build
at a higher density than the homes that are there at the moment,
particularly where some of those homes are still occupied? Would
you walk away from that situation or not?
(Mr Stevenson) We would only walk away from it if
we found there was no support from local government. We do need
that. Given there is the right support from local government,
and you have appropriate central government agencies' support,
yes, we would work at it.
482. We have received evidence from many witnesses
who say that the whole redevelopment/regeneration process takes
far too long. Do you agree with that and how do you feel it could
be speeded up?
(Mr Stevenson) In a way it has to take a long time
because you have got to change hearts and minds in the process,
and you cannot do that overnight. That is why I say once you commence
a scheme, to turn around values, turn around people's views of
areas, you do need periods of five to ten years to go by. That
cannot be speeded up. What you can speed up is all the lead-in
time to making these events happen because they are becoming far,
far more complex than they ever have been in the past.
483. You regretted the demise of the PIP programme.
You said you hoped something was going to get into its place.
Can you be a bit more specific?
(Mr Stevenson) I hope! Not at the moment. I have been
talking to agencies like the Housing Corporation about ways in
which they could be involved in the process. Whether that is possible
or not is unclear, but I think there is a growing enthusiasm amongst
quite a number of the agencies to find an answer simply because
it is vital that we do so.
484. Has it significantly stopped some schemes
you were going to do?
(Mr Stevenson) The absence of the gap funding programme
has stopped a huge amount of work. In fact, if you look at the
industry you find that all the individuals and departments who
engaged in that work have now largely gone.
485. So you think it really is a major hole
in this problem of urban regeneration?
(Mr Stevenson) Yes.
Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very
much for your evidence.