Great Estates: Putting communities at the heart of regeneration

Publication Details

Launched 10th November, Great Estates: Putting communities at the heart of regeneration, sets out how communities can be put at the heart of the Government’s forthcoming Estate Regeneration Strategy – and what else needs to be done to ensure prosperity and opportunity is spread to all parts of the country. Crucially, it warns that there is a North-South divide in the current approach to funding regeneration that risks leaving behind hundreds of communities outside London and the South East.

In February this year, the then Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to regenerate “sink” estates to tackle deprivation and build new homes. Alongside this, funding of £140 million was announced to support regeneration on 100 estates, with most of the costs of regeneration coming from the private sector. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is due to publish Lord Heseltine’s Estate Regeneration Strategy ahead of the Autumn Statement on 23rd November. This paper highlights where this strategy could fall short unless the Government changes its approach.

In a study of 122 estates around the country, we find that on many deprived estates housing demand is not sufficient to attract private investment, and that building new homes is not the answer to local needs in those places. Where new housing is needed, we find that communities must be empowered to shape the form of that development and benefit from it.

Graham Allen, Labour MP for Nottingham North and member of the Government’s Estate Regeneration Panel, said: “I fully support the thinking behind ResPublica’s report. We need to meet housing shortages in London and the South East, but it is also vital that we look at what can have a meaningful impact on the lives of residents on estates around the country. 

It is vital that we recognise the different needs of communities on estates around the country, and look at new ways to meet those needs. ResPublica’s innovative ideas set out the way forward for estates, and I urge the Government to pay full heed to them.

James Cartlidge, Conservative MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Planning, said: “Transforming our estates can deliver new homes where they are needed and boost the life chances of those who live on them. But it is also important that residents get a say over any redevelopment, and that we look at new ways to attract investment in estates around the country so that everyone can benefit.

ResPublica’s timely report on estate regeneration is very welcome, as this is an issue that should be at the heart of a One Nation agenda for our country.

ResPublica report author Edward Douglas said: “What our research has found is that there is a significant North-South divide in what the Government’s current policy on regeneration of estates can deliver. That’s because it is very focused on ‘bricks and mortar’ – using new homes to fund wider regeneration of places.

But in many parts of the country, this model does not work, and what is needed is an approach that directly improves employment, education and health. Without looking again at the way regeneration is funded and delivered, we risk leaving estates across the country – from Walsall to Blackpool, Carlisle to Bradford – further behind.

We also found that regeneration can, when communities are put at the heart of the process, deliver real benefits to local places and impact on people’s lives – and can at the same time deliver new homes in places that desperately need them. The new Government has a great opportunity to look again at this to ensure opportunity and prosperity are spread to all parts of the country.

  • Edward Douglas

    Policy and Projects Manager

    Edward manages ResPublica’s housing programme. He has written extensively on housing, planning and regeneration. He also works on employment, skills, enterprise and finance policy. He is the author of Great Estates on regeneration, and co-author of Going to Scale on...

    Edward Douglas