What is good regeneration?
April 20, 2017
An article in the Guardian said recently that regeneration is tough. In fact they said “regeneration has become a loaded, contested term” and that some schemes had been met with “suspicion, cynicism and in some cases even outright hostility”.
But the experts the newspaper brought together to discuss regeneration still thought it was necessary and important. They knew that regeneration was the way to make neighbourhoods attractive again; to bring about change and re-introduce vibrancy and purpose to previously underused spaces.
But how to bridge the gap between cynicism and need? They suggested some key factors that help ensure success:
- Time: good regeneration takes a lot of time.
- Vision: regeneration schemes must be flexible and fluid, but you need to have a vision for why you are doing it, and what you want to achieve. It’s not just building: construction is obviously important, but space, infrastructure, streetscapes and parks matter as well.
- Engagement: good regeneration must allow the local community to take it on and grow into it. This was backed up by the Mayor of London’s good practice guide to regeneration that emphasised the importance of residents’ having an early input into plans
So, if you use these criteria for success, how are we doing at YourMK?
Well, we know it’ll take time. We have always said that this is a 15 year programme. Although it has been frustrating for people that we have not been able to say anything specific so far, we are taking this step by step to make sure we get it right.
Vision? We spent time before YourMK was even launched putting together a detailed strategy for regeneration , setting out the problems that needed addressing and what we needed to do in response. This is not a detailed blueprint, but it makes clear why regeneration in MK is so crucial.
Our employment programme shows that we are committed to much more than building new houses. The team work with people trying to get into the jobs market, offering training, support and opportunity to people at different stages in their employment journey.
And YourMK has just launched its Business Plan, which responds to the evidenced for people and places in MK, with a five year plan.
Engagement really starts now. We have announced the timetable for the seven estates and detailed, comprehensive engagement with residents, businesses and other stakeholders will start in July on Fullers Slade and the Lakes in autumn. There are also plans in place for North Bradville in 2018 and Woughton for 2020.
This last point is perhaps the key.
Engagement with the community will be the biggest factor in our success. The more you can get involved, the better the plans for your area will be. We will be holding open sessions in the next week, followed by workshops and training with our nationally recognised master planners. Keep an eye out for more details, talk to the community team  and let us know what you think and how you want to be involved.
National experts have their place – as the Guardian article shows – but in the end it’s down the local experts who live and breathe an area, to develop the plans and make it happen.