Experts at a recent roundtable stressed the need for proper community engagementby Duncan Weldon / May 23, 2018 / Leave a comment
Prospect and Home Group, one the UK’s leading providers of social housing, recently convened a roundtable to discuss the role of regeneration in providing solutions to the housing crisis. With housing once again rising up the political agenda, the event brought together policymakers, academics, politicians with private and third sector experts to discuss the relevant challenges.
It is now widely recognised the UK is suffering from a housing crisis, with an increasing share of household income being swallowed up by housing costs and—in some places—a marked decline in quality. The failure to build enough housing units over the past couple of decades has contributed to this. Whilst the nature of the housing problem varies around the UK, few locales are unaffected.
Whilst much of the public and political debate has been focused on brown and greenfield building, the regeneration of existing housing estates has the potential to both improve the quality of existing dwellings and to increase housing density by adding vital new units.
Home Group CEO, Mark Henderson, opened the meeting by explaining the background to Home Group and noting some of their recent projects. Not shying away from the issue, he described how much of the debate on regeneration often lapsed into criticism of gentrification. The line between regenerating an estate and gentrifying a community can be a fine one but, for Home Group, successful regeneration is driven by the active involvement of existing residents. The community should ideally feel like they are working with a developer to regenerate their community, rather than it being something done to them by developers and the council.
He argued that, if done well, regeneration is a long process—community engagement has to be far more than just putting up posters with notices of planning applications and a few (often badly attended) meetings.
Gentrification is a controversial area and it is notable that, whilst successful regeneration projects rarely receive much national press attention, poorly done ones (which are often accused of being acts of gentrification) usually do. Richard Blakeway, a former Deputy Mayor of London…