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This year we have been rethinking regeneration.

Successful regeneration projects are facing mounting pressures. Local planning issues combined with funding issues and a need for more consistency at a national political level are adding risk and hindering innovation. 

The social and economic impact of these barriers affect the lives of millions of us across the length and breadth of the country reducing quality of lives, increasing the impact of the cost of living crisis and even shortening life expectancy. At its best, regeneration has the potential  to deliver much more than the sum of its parts and that, along with the ability to retain and nurture the essence of a place should make it a priority. 

At Trowers, we see these issues first hand in working alongside our developer, investor, registered provider and local authority clients. To support their energy and focus on bringing these issues to the fore, we decided to launch a campaign to diagnose and investigate these barriers, looking at economic and local data combined with views from those at the coal face of regeneration to provide insight into the places grappling with these challenges.

Over the past year, we’ve hosted events in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Plymouth, bringing together leaders from across the public and private sectors to better understand the positive or negative impact regeneration projects have had on each city and their surrounding towns. A key component to the discussion has been data from our collaborators Evaluate|Locate and Commonplace, which has enabled us to understand more about the economic vitality of a specific place and the public sentiment around development; travelling across the country has allowed us to compare regeneration nationally, telling a story of how it differs place to place, whilst identifying the common themes of what is needed to create successful places.

In 2024, we will be taking our Rethinking Regeneration report to MIPIM where we will publish our findings in full, setting out recommendations for the industry and UK Government. Some initial findings from the research include:

  1. Data to assist decision making – we need to take away some of the guess work around investment decisions, and data (for example the economic and sentiment data we used) should be more widely utilised to better inform regeneration schemes across the country.
  2. Better communication and engagement – this is needed to restore the lack of trust between the wider public and developers and to drive decision making about the priorities in a local area and indeed explain the role that inhabitants have in shaping that future; in particular when it comes to capturing the voices and needs of younger generations who will be occupying these places in the 20-30 years' time when schemes reach completion.
  3. Strong leadership – leadership combined with long-term accountability are essential to deliver the best outcomes for communities – we saw inspiring examples of the power of commitment and passion for an area that can truly transform what is delivered and how socially and economically sustainable it is.
  4. New models for collaboration – new forms of public private partnership along with robust and up to date local plans and targeted government funding are needed to overcome the challenge of viability, particularly in towns and cities with lower land values – the same models don't work everywhere and decisions as to what is going to work have to be based upon the intricacies of that particular area.

These are complex and difficult issues, but ones we need to address head on if we are to capitalise on the regeneration opportunities across the country to achieve sustainable growth and create towns and cities fit for the communities of tomorrow.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be publishing more insights, articles and podcasts unpacking how we need to Rethink Regeneration. Our purpose is to communicate the research to help the industry drive positive change. At Trowers we believe that the best approach to regeneration is understanding that financial success is inextricably linked to positive outcomes for people and the planet. By Rethinking Regeneration we can ensure it is harnessed as a powerful force to create better places that enable people to thrive.