Regeneration Juggernaut!

The phrase “regeneration juggernaut” caught my eye in this article in the Guardian on estate redevelopment in London. There are probably hundreds of estates built in the 1960s and 1970s in London that are in the process of being “regenerated”. Executed by private developers, often the process involves demolition and/or major refurbishment of the existing housing, additional market housing and some new affordable housing. I’m no expert on regeneration but it seems a pretty broad term that can cover a multitude of sins. I’ve little doubt that such many estates need investment. However, they also present major financial and political opportunities for developers and local authorities.   Local authorities, in particular, may be conflicted between the desire to maximise financial returns from land sales and the need for affordable housing. Basically, the more social housing that is in a proposed scheme, the less the land is worth.   It’s also believed that some local authorities (particularly Conservative ones) see estate “regeneration” as a means of changing the composition of the electorate in their favour. A planner that I know well involved in one of these major urban “regeneration” projects was quite shocked at the partisanship of the local authority in their support of the developer against existing businesses and residents who were objecting to the proposed scheme. In the Heygate scheme, there have been secondments and senior staff recruitments between Lend Lease and Southwark. Should this be a surprise? I suspect that it has been ever thus.

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