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16 December 2010
CENTRE FOR CITIES SETS OUT NEW APPROACH
Government’s approach to physical regeneration in England’s
ex-industrial cities will not work for local residents and a new way
forward is needed, according to a new report by the Centre for
Over the past decade, the blueprint for city regeneration has been
to build houses, offices, apartment blocks and science parks on the
assumption that this could spark economic growth in any urban area
or neighbourhood. £5bn has been spent on physical regeneration by
regional development agencies outside London. And new
Coalition incentives like the New Homes Bonus, expected in the
Localism Bill, will encourage all cities to build, regardless of how
well placed they are to expand, rather than creating room for cities
to pursue plans that work for them.
Many regeneration projects have not ‘turned around’ local economies
or the lives of local residents in the way that had been hoped. It’s
thought that the average underperforming regeneration project in
England generated 40% fewer jobs than anticipated when originally
planned. Vacant housing in these areas has often remained and office
space is often difficult to let. These projects have been
battling against long term economic forces like industrial decline
and globalisation, which have meant the population and job
opportunities in some urban areas and neighbourhoods have grown and
With public funds for regeneration now scarce, it’s critical that
regeneration projects of the right size and scope are planned.
The Centre is urging city leaders and national government to adopt
an ambitious new approach, focused on addressing the scars of
industrial decline directly and learning from pioneering initiatives
used in US and German cities.
The report recommends:-
Local and national politicians should accept that using regeneration
plans to ‘go for growth’ hasn’t worked in every urban neighbourhood
and can have negative as well as positive consequences on a city’s
economy and residents.
► A new way forward
might mean building a park rather than a science park, or turning
tiny terraces into larger homes, rather than knocking them down and
building one bed flats. Communities should be given the power to
decide on plans, testing out the neighbourhood planning approach
expected in the Localism Bill.
The Coalition introduces a permanent Transformation Fund in the next
Spending Review to help cities introduce these kinds of projects –
and to help improve quality of life in neighbourhoods undergoing
industrial and population decline.
The Coalition urgently needs to find new money for the Housing
Market Renewal Pathfinder areas. The programme needs reviewing.
Frequently its sound principles were poorly implemented. But the
Coalition’s decision to leave the scheme unfinished means the
communities concerned will bear an unfair cost.
Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of the Centre for Cities said:- “The Coalition is encouraging all urban areas to ‘go for growth’
through incentives like the New Homes Bonus, but the neighbourhoods
grappling with industrial decline and the impacts of recession and
cuts need to stabilise first.
In the past, city leaders and national government have championed
the replacement of out of use steel works and empty terraces with
office and apartment blocks. These projects did not improve
opportunities for local residents in the way they had hoped, and
public and developer finance is now limited.
Shifting plans from building a science park to creating a public
park in these places is not about giving up on growth – it’s about
improving the area for local residents, who should be at the heart
of the decision making process. This is an approach that has worked
for US and German cities. Ambition and innovation from city
leadership are the key ingredients.”
protection for low paid workers
UNISON, the UK's largest public
service union, reacted angrily to news that the government is to
abolish the 2 tier fair employment code, saying it heralded a
"race to the bottom". The code is designed to ensure that
companies who take over public sector contracts, provide pay and
conditions for new staff broadly comparable to that of the former
public sector staff, they work alongside.
Dave Prentis General Secretary of UNISON, said:- "This is
another attack on mainly low paid women workers. The two tier code
is essential to stop companies that are in the process of bidding
for public sector contracts, competing on how low they can pay their
staff. Even many companies that bid for these contracts are
privately worried that this will result in a "race to the
bottom" in pay and conditions. The new Principles of Good
Employment Practice are purely voluntary. With no enforcement
mechanism these will have no bite and are merely wishful thinking on
the part of the government.
This move will hit many low paid women workers hard, particularly
catering and cleaning staff, and UNISON is calling on the government
to carry out an equality impact assessment as a matter of urgency.
We do not want to see a return to the bad old days of Compulsory
Competitive Tendering (CCT), introduced by the last Tory government,
which resulted in big cuts in pay and conditions, a huge turnover in
staff and ultimately worse standards in public services."
cuts target Northern cities
NORTHERN towns and cities
unfairly face the biggest cuts in local spending reveals research by
the National Housing Federation. The announcement of the
Government's cuts in local councils' spending hits twice as many
Northern communities and concentrates on those areas where residents
are poorest and neighbourhoods.
Research by leading housing campaign group, the National Housing
► 19 of the 37 councils facing highest level of cuts are in the
► This is 51% of the total
► On a fair share of cuts only 25% of Northern councils would be in
the top bracket.
Northern communities facing the greatest cuts include: Manchester,
Liverpool, Bradford, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Deputy Prime
Minister's home city of Sheffield.
The reductions in expenditure will affect essential council services
such as street lighting, road maintenance, snow clearance, community
wardens, care and support services and education. This means a
downward cycle of more unemployment and less profits for local
businesses which means fewer jobs. For a city like Liverpool, this
represents over £100 Million that will be removed from the local
Commented, Northern housing campaign leader, Derek Long:-"Council
services are crucial for keeping communities safe and viable. That
these cuts target the most deprived communities and the weakest
economies is short-sighted as well as unjust. Coming on top of the
abolition of housing market renewal and the Regional Development
Agencies, this is a further blow to hopes of a Northern economic
recovery and a strong housing market."
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