4 Learning the lessons |
62. The Government claims that Regeneration to
enable growth represents a "different approach"
to regeneration. It asserts that "over the past 10-15 years
regeneration became overly reliant on large-scale direct public
sector investment, and this was not only unsustainable, but there
is anecdotal evidence that it may also have discouraged private
investment"; it states that "previous models of regeneration
are now simply unaffordable".
Its memorandum goes on to say that "even if funding considerations
were more favourable, we [the Government] wouldn't pursue the
same model", and that "the limitations of previous approaches
signal the need for a new approach". These limitations,
the Government believes, include: "modest results" in
spite of "10 years of intense investment"; an overreliance
on "direction and control from Whitehall"; a "failure
to involve local people"; and excessive "bureaucracy",
with "multiple activities and funding streams" each
having their "own silo bureaucracy and reporting arrangements".
The Government references a number of studies and evaluations
in support of its views.
63. Some witnesses agreed that recent regeneration
schemes have not always been effective. Chris Brown, Chief Executive
of Igloo, for instance, stated that "over the past 15 years,
we have had some substandard regeneration programmes in this country".
He referred to the Single Regeneration Budget, through which he
said, "we spread a lot of money very thinly, so we failed
to regenerate a lot of those places".
Urban Forum criticised many of the approaches taken since the
While these have resulted in some improvements in
some areas, overall they have not been successful in providing
enough affordable homes, stimulating significant growth of enterprise
and employment, reducing inequality between communities and geographical
areas, or in working in partnership with residents to improve
areas and increase social capital.
Neil McInroy, Chief Executive of the Centre for Local
Economic Strategies, asked about the failure of previous regeneration
schemes, said that money "had been thrown at a problem without
due understanding of the connectivity and relationships that take
place in any given locality".
He also said that past projects "did become a bureaucracy
and became process driven".
evidence was more positive about previous programmes. The Housing
Market Renewal Pathfinder Chairs said:
This country has built up considerable expertise
in regeneration that stands comparison with anywhere in the world,
especially in integrating the various sectors to be improved and
involving fully the private sector and the local community.
The Sustainable Communities Excellence Network believed
that "regeneration programmes such as the New Deal for Communities
and the Market Towns Initiative [...] really did explore community
engagement in both the rural and urban context and have much to
'teach' the new localism agenda".
IPPR North acknowledged that there was "a legitimate critique
of the effectiveness of large-scale, capital-driven regeneration
projects or indeed more community-led holistic approaches like
New Deal for Communities" but spoke of "the counter-factual
that without such investment over the past decade many places
might have been considerably worse than they are today".
65. While views about the effectiveness of past programmes
differed, it was generally felt that Government had not given
sufficient consideration to the lessons that could be learned
from them. Professor Paul Lawless of Sheffield Hallam University
One marked weakness in this strand of policy has
been a reluctance on the part of new administrations to learn
from previous regeneration initiatives. There is every possibility
of this happening again, as a new government launches a regeneration
programme with little if any acknowledgement of lessons from previous
IPPR North suggested that there was "little
evidence that very much has been learned from past regeneration
projects other than perhaps that significant targeted intervention
does not always represent value for money".
Jim Coulter, representing
the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder Chairs, felt that the document
reflected a "year zero approach", adding that "it
ought to have reflected rather more on what past strategies have
been successful and unsuccessful at".
66. Witnesses argued that the Government should pay
greater heed to evaluations of previous regeneration programmes.
Michael Gahagan of the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder Chairs
stressed that there was "a tonne and a half of evaluations
around including, in terms of housing market renewal, very substantial
pieces of work [which] have [been] commissioned by CLG itself,
done independently by the NAO, done independently by the Audit
Keith Burge of the Institute of Economic Development asserted
confidently that there was "enough past practice to look
at; we can go back to Urban Development Corporations, City Challenge,
Single Regeneration Budget, Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, New Deal
for Communities and so on". He felt that no one had "taken
the trouble to sit down and look at what has worked and why, or
what has not worked and why".
What can be learned?
evidence points to a number of consistent lessons that can be
learned about regeneration and what makes it successfullessons
which we often found reinforced by our experience of speaking
to those affected by regeneration 'on the ground'. Among them
was that regeneration required a multi-faceted approach: time
and again, we heard that there was no "silver bullet"
with which all regeneration problems could be solved.
Leeds City Region told us that regeneration "requires
a range of interventions that tackle a number of issues in a holistic
and complementary manner".
People and places
68. Hull City Council was one of a number of witnesses
to tell us that "delivering regeneration requires a balance
of people and place based approaches".
Barbara Harbinson, Chief Executive of the Halifax Opportunities
Trust, a social enterprise, said that in her view "what have
really worked are the schemes where you integrate people and place".
Katie Schmuecker of IPPR North agreed, arguing that "simply
to support individual mobility out of lagging places" would
place a "severe strain on the sustainability of some places";
her organisation therefore believed that "while individual
mobility and supporting people to improve their personal circumstances
is extremely important, improving places has to go hand in hand
69. The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, referred
to this mobility phenomenon when asked why there remained significant
deprivation in his Borough in spite of large amounts of Government
money having been spent on job creation: "What happens is
they come into Newham, they get work, they get jobs and then they
move out of the area and another group of people come in who are
He said that "public subsidy" was "one of the things
[he wanted] to break away from".
Asked how places could escape from a "cycling of public money",
Ros Dunn, Chief Executive of the Thames Gateway London Partnership,
said there was a choice:
I would say it depends on what you think you are
doing and what you think you are creating, and whether or not
you have a place that you are trying to make a destination, which
you would then expect to change, or whether you just accept there
are going to be places where there will always be a need to provide
further support because the people who go there are always going
to need it and then they move on.
She said that "one of the big legacy benefits
of the Olympics is that, not just for the Olympic Park, but for
the whole of that sub-region, you will start to transform it as
somewhere that feels more like an acceptable destination for people
to want to stay".
70. The evidence emphasised the importance of a long-term
approach to regeneration. UK Regeneration stated:
The most successful towns and cities have always
placed individual projects, and particularly the use of government's
tailored initiatives, within a long term strategic approach to
the economic, social and physical development of their areas.
They recognise that regeneration is long term, that some complex
projects may take many years to complete, and that consistency
of approach is needed.
Places for People suggested that, while "some
improvements can be achieved" in a period of "three
to five years", it believed that "twenty years is where
long-term impacts can be measured".
The Building and Social Housing Federation said that "one
of the key issues for any funding for regeneration is providing
long-term stability", reporting that "uncertainty is
one of the main concerns expressed by residents experiencing the
Mr Shapps made a legitimate criticism of the Housing Market Renewal
Programme, saying that it had not provided "any guarantee
of funding whatsoever", with the result that people "were
left stranded in streets where there is nobody else there".
Discussing this issue, the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder Chairs
said that "Government
and regeneration timescales do not coincide". They referred
to the "commitment to a ten year horizon [...] given to the
New Deal for Communities programme" as "the exception
rather than the rule".
During our visit to Rochdale, we met some residents from the Langley
area who also stressed the importance of a long term approach.
One compared regeneration to losing weight: it was relatively
easy to make progress at the start, but much harder to sustain
it over the longer term.
Working in partnership
71. We heard that close partnership working was critical
to successful regeneration. England's Regional Development Agencies
said that "tackling deep seated structural and social problems
requires a joined-up, multi-disciplinary approach to regeneration
which brings together a range of partners locally".
Newcastle and Gateshead agreed that "partnership working
is a key part of successful regeneration", adding that "depending
on the scale, this might include working across local authority
boundaries, as well as with other agencies, community groups,
private partners and local residents".
In Greater Manchester, we saw that the strong partnership between
neighbouring local authorities, other public sector bodies and
local businesses had been critical to successful regeneration.
72. A number of witnesses placed particular emphasis
on the importance of close working between the private and public
sectors. The development company Kier Group described the need
for "a combination of private and public sector intervention
working effectively and creatively across several disciplines
(covering both expertise and funding)".
The Royal Town Planning Institute told us that one of the "critical
features" of "previous successful regeneration programmes"
had been a "reliance on public sector funding to pump prime
the programme while [the] private sector is nurtured".
Lord Heseltine, who as Secretary of State for the Environment
from 1979 to 1983 and 1990 to 1992
was the Cabinet Minister responsible for regeneration, said that
in his experience, the lesson "that in many ways was the
most profound" had been "the decision in 1979 to make
the use of public money conditional on private sector partnership".
He felt this had brought benefits in making more resources available
but had also strengthened "the human relationships":
In 1979, the public and private sectors were very
distant. They just did not know each other, did not work together,
and many of them had great reservations about each other. Within
a year or two, they were friends because they had come together
to share the experience of first clearing, then developing, the
sites. It created a human relationship, which is now standard
orthodoxy in urban policy, which it was not then.
Strong local leadership
73. Witness spoke of the need for strong leadership
at the local level. Neil McInroy of the Centre for Local Economic
Strategies used the term "stewardship of place":
If you look at regeneration success round the world,
you will find there is great regeneration done without lots of
public money being thrown at it, but what it does need is a strong
stewardship of place, be it from the local authority or from a
[Local Enterprise Partnership] that has the power and some resources
to act as a steward effectively.
The Centre for Comparative
Housing Research said that "strategic
leadership by local authorities is essential if community-based
regeneration is to flourish", adding, "Councils have
a vital role in setting the strategic agenda and providing a supportive
The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities referred to
three examples of successful regeneration in its area, saying
that in each, "the
local authority has taken a leadership role in initiating the
regeneration programmes"; it believed that the "consistency
of leadership was critical in ensuring that the areas benefited
from substantial public sector investment over a long enough period
of time to make a real difference".
74. The evidence also points to lessons to be learned
about community involvement. Urban Forum said that an "overarching
lesson is that all activity to regenerate neighbourhoods must
be properly integrated so that citizens benefit from it, and have
a genuine say over how the area where they live is regenerated".
Kier Group commented that "lessons have been learned from
past approaches which have often left local people disenfranchised
and excluded from the development of the regeneration initiatives
that they are supposed to benefit from".
Slough YMCA said that "often the people that can influence
change are those that are working within the troubled/run down
areas" and stressed the importance of "discussing issues
upfront with these groups".
When we visited the New Islington development in Manchester, we
heard that often informal approaches to community engagement were
more successful; meetings had taken place in the local pub and
residents had valued the efforts of professionals to speak to
them in straightforward, jargon-free language.
75. Others struck a note of caution and identified
some issues that can arise when communities are involved in regeneration.
Professor Lawless, who directed the evaluation of the New Deal
for Communities Programme, said that it was "disingenuous
to assume neighbourhoods contain the experience, expertise and
capacity accurately to reflect on local needs and sensibly to
define solutions to local issues".
The Building and Social Housing Federation felt that the Government
had not considered "what will happen if the priorities of
the local community conflict with those of national politicians
and policymakers". It suggested a "clear,
shared understanding of the problems and challenges facing regeneration
areas" was needed.
76. Some witnesses suggested that the City Challenge
programme of the early 1990s was a particularly successful regeneration
initiative. Chris Brown told us that City Challenge was "the
best [regeneration programme] we ever got", saying:
If what we are looking at are small areas that we
now do not think about, because they are operating as normal places,
it was the case that when we had those area-focussed teams and
we did the social, economic and physical together, we succeeded.
Lord Heseltine, who as Secretary of State led City
Challenge, said that on the basis of some initial research, he
had found "that people regard it as a very successful initiative".
77. During our visit to Greater Manchester, we saw
one of the places that had benefitted from the City Challenge
initiative, the Hulme area of Manchester. We found that the transformation
of Hulme reflected much of what our evidence told us about successful
regeneration. It brought in investment from both the public and
private sectors; the focus had been both on the place, with a
transformation of the physical environment, and people, with investment
in job creation and community projects; efforts had been made
to involve local residents in the process. It had also been a
long-term process with a decade of sustained activity: the approach
had not been immediately effective and in the early stages had
involved a degree of trial and error. However, the eventual results
had been the creation of a "normal" place in which the
community took pride, and a change in the mindset of many residents,
who believed they now had things to which they could aspire.
Hulme is one of the areas to which City Challenge status was awarded in the early 1990s. Prior to this, the area suffered massive deprivation. It was dominated by the imposing crescent blocks built in the 1970s, which suffered infestations of cockroaches and mice, had major structural problems, and through their design encouraged crime and anti-social behaviour.
As a result of the City Challenge programme and other related investment, the area was transformed. The crescents were demolished, the street scene was restored, and funding was provided for economic development and physical, environmental and community projects. ASDA opened a store in Hulme and, through strong local labour agreements, created a number of jobs for local residents.
After 10 years of sustained activity, Hulme became a much more settled and "normal" area. It is now a much more cosmopolitan community, unemployment and crime have fallen, and property prices are comparative with those in the City Centre. Manchester Metropolitan University has plans to build a new campus in Hulme; this will include services and facilities for both students and local residents.
78. Lord Heseltine,
who said that he regarded the regeneration of Hulme as "one
of the most successful things I did",
believed that the competitive element of City Challenge played
an important role in ensuring the proposals were of a high quality.
He told us that in the first bidding round ten cities had been
successful and 20 had not but, "the second year, the different
quality in the 20 that lost was very encouraging, because they
all went off to see how people had won and they all traded their
Chris Brown agreed that "a competitive process [was] valuable",
but cautioned that "the onus is then on the people judging
the competition, because what you cannot have is the hardest places
losing all the time". He added, "You have to be very
good at judging those competitions and understanding where their
starting point is".
While views about the effectiveness
of the competitive element varied, our evidence and what we learned
on the visit suggested that City Challenge brought a number of
benefits. Such benefits included:
- the requirement for private
- a five year programme subject
to satisfactory review;
- the mixture of revenue and capital
- dedicated resources committed
- the commitment from the private
sector, public sector and community involvement;
- the high level of expertise
- very strong community involvement;
- the commitment to complete regeneration,
including housing, education, job creation and all quality of
- In looking to future regeneration
schemes, the Government should have regard to these elements.
79. There is a great deal that can be learned from
past approaches to regeneration. It is as important to learn from
mistakes as from successes: for instance, from recent programmes
such as the Single Regeneration Budget, where it has been argued
that money was "spread [...] very thinly".
Amongst the key lessons set out in our evidence, it is clear that
there is no 'silver bullet' and that regeneration has to involve
a multi-faceted approach focusing both on people and the places
in which they live. We have heard that successful regeneration
takes many years, and requires the formation of strong partnerships
and input and investment from both the private and public sectors.
Moreover, it cannot succeed without the close involvement of the
communities at which it is targeted.
80. While these messages are in many ways unsurprising,
we are concerned that the Government has apparently done little
to learn from them and to build its approach on what has gone
before. Having concluded that previous approaches to regeneration
were "unsustainable" and "unaffordable",
it appears to have dismissed them all and chosen to start again
with a 'blank canvas'. Whatever view is taken about the effectiveness
of previous schemes, it is clear that they offer plenty of opportunity
for learning. We can see little evidence that the measures in
Regeneration to enable growth draw upon an understanding
of what has worked or not worked in the past.
81. In Hulme we saw that an intensive focus on a
particular area over a sustained period of time can deliver real
and lasting results; we believe there is much that can be learned
from the City Challenge initiative under which much of the regeneration
of Hulme took place. We would like to see an approach to regeneration
that incorporates the successful elements of City Challenge and
leads to the creation of more places like Hulme. Such elements
include the focus upon local leadership and the emphasis upon
proposals put forward by the local area. While public funding
is clearly limited at present, there is no shortage of creative
solutions emerging from local areas; in the following chapters,
we consider particular ideas put forward by Greater Manchester
for using existing resources more effectively. Government should
not only be looking to learn from the past but also encouraging
local areas to learn from each other. We
recommend that the Government carry out an urgent review of the
various regeneration programmes that have taken place over the
past and utilise the lessons learned for future programmes. In
particular, we note that there is widespread support that City
Challenge was a successful programme in concentrating resources
on specific areas to promote wholesale regeneration. We further
recommend that the Government invite local authorities and their
partners to put forward innovative ideas for tackling regeneration
in their areas. The most robust of these should then be designated
as 'pathfinders' and taken forward with government support. Their
success should be evaluated to determine the potential for wider
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