Although the government announcement that a topped up total of £172 million of funding will be available to regenerate deprived housing estates was welcome news, industry bodies have warned that it can only be celebrated as a good start.
Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of CIH, says more will be needed for regeneration to reach its potential to deliver the homes the UK needs.
“It’s good to see that government is maintaining its focus on boosting regeneration as a key means of meeting housing need and the additional £32 million of grant funding to kick start projects is a positive step,” said Smart. “Alongside the £140 million of previously announced funding this will help new regeneration schemes to begin work.
“Our research on regeneration has demonstrated how vital up-front funding is to ensure these large scale projects are a success and for that reason we still believe funding on a significantly greater scale will be needed to realise the huge potential for regeneration to transform communities and deliver the new housing we so desperately need.
“We hope that this is just the start of a long-term commitment to put regeneration at the heart of the government’s efforts to tackle our housing crisis.”
Rachel Fisher, Head of Policy at the National Housing Federation, believes that the additional funding will only make a difference if the industry works as a united front. “We welcome the Government’s renewed focus on regenerating some of the country’s most deprived estates,” she said. “Estate regeneration is an important part of housing associations’ work in boosting the nation’s housing supply and improving lives with quality affordable housing, particularly in areas of lower demand.
“Though the £140 million loan funding is limited in what it can achieve, the additional up front grant fund of £30 million, as well as the £2 million in capacity building funds for local authorities could help to improve the impact of the overall programme.
“It is vital that this is done through a place-based, partnership approach and joined up thinking about investment in infrastructure, public services and employment and skills. This will ensure that we deliver sustainable regeneration for existing and future residents.”
The government’s new strategy was developed with the input from an independent advisory panel of leading experts in the built environment, including RIBA President Jane Duncan. “The RIBA has long campaigned for all communities to be built with the needs of local people at their heart,” said Duncan. “We are pleased to see that the government has listened and included strong protections for existing estate residents within the announcement.
“I am particularly encouraged to see the government’s recognition that good design is key to any estate regeneration approach and that improving the built environment has a direct positive impact on the life chances of residents. I am pleased to see the strategy’s practical guidance illustrated with exemplar work by RIBA members, demonstrating how successful estate regeneration can be achieved.
“As a member of the independent advisory panel I promoted the pivotal role of architects in estate regeneration – from conception and design, to delivery. The RIBA will continue to make this case on behalf of our members as development programmes supported by this strategy and funding emerge.”