Urban Regeneration in the UK


Phil Jones & James Evans

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    ABIArea Based Initiative – refers to policy schemes tied to specific areas, as opposed to block grants given to local authorities for general purposes.
    ASCAcademy for Sustainable Communities – a body administered by CLG with a remit to foster a culture of skills within the regeneration sector, although it does not itself engage in training.
    AWMAdvantage West Midlands – RDA for the West Midlands.
    BCCBirmingham City Council – local authority for Birmingham.
    BIDBusiness Improvement District – a locally-based initiative where businesses and property owners pay a voluntary additional tax to improve the environment of their local area.
    BREBuilding Research Establishment – a government agency conducting and coordinating research on construction technologies.
    BREEAMBuilding Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method – a measure of the performance of developments against certain indicators of environmental sustainability. EcoHomes is a domestic version of BREEAM.
    CABECommission for Architecture and the Built Environment – statutory body set up by DCMS and ODPM to promote high-quality architecture and planning.
    CBDCentral Business District
    CIQCultural Industries Quarter – district of Sheffield's inner city designated as a hothouse for the cultural industries.
    CLG(Department for) Communities and Local Government – successor to the ODPM, it's the main government department for urban policy in England since 2006.
    CPOCompulsory purchase order – mechanism through which local authorities and other government bodies can acquire property against the wishes of the landowner.
    CPPCommunity Planning Partnership – Scottish agencies, successor to the SIPs, aiming to improve indicators of social inclusion in the top 15% most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland.
    CPRECampaign to Protect Rural England – charity and lobby group seeking to protect the interests of rural England (formerly the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England).
    DBERRDepartment for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform – successor to the DTI, 2007.
    DCMSDepartment for Culture, Media and Sport – central government department which replaced the Department of National Heritage, in 1997.
    DEFRADepartment for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – main government department with responsibility for environmental policy, 2001.
    DETRDepartment of the Environment, Transport and the Regions – precursor to ODPM, 1997–2001.
    DoEDepartment of the Environment – central government department 1970–97, subsequently merged into the DETR.
    DTIDepartment for Trade and Industry – responsible for administering the RDAs, replaced by DBERR in 2007.
    ECoCEuropean Capital of Culture – formerly European City of Culture, this EU-funded scheme seeks to promote the cultural heritage of individual European cities. The award is made annually on a rotation basis to different member states.
    EEDAEast of England Development Agency – RDA for the east of England.
    EPEnglish Partnerships – executive agency reporting to CLG. It is a significant landowner with a remit to help foster regeneration schemes across the UK in collaboration with local authorities, RDAs and other bodies (e.g. Pathfinders).
    ERCFEstates Renewal Challenge Fund – allowed local authorities to transfer individual estates into the ownership of housing associations. A smaller scale version of LSVT, the scheme ran between 1995 and 2000.
    ERDFEuropean Regional Development Fund – funds made available by the EU to help even out regional inequalities within member states.
    ESFEuropean Social Fund – EU's structural programme responsible for increasing skills and employment opportunities.
    ESRCEconomic and Social Research Council – the main body for funding social science research in the UK higher education sector.
    EUEuropean Union – a supranational body of European states which cooperate over certain aspects of social, economic and environmental policy.
    GHAGlasgow Housing Association – the housing association which took control of Glasgow City Council's housing portfolio following stock transfer in 2002.
    GLAGreater London Authority – a post-1997 replacement for the defunct GLC, with elections for the Mayor taking place in 2000.
    GLCGreater London Council – a powerful local authority which operated across Greater London and was abolished by the Conservative government in 1986.
    HIPHousing Improvement Programme – during the 1970s and 1980s this was the mechanism through which local authorities were allocated permission by central government to spend money maintaining their stock of council houses.
    ICTInformation Communication Technology – umbrella term for computing and telecommunications.
    LAALocal Area Agreement – an agreement between central government, the local authority and LSP as to what the priorities are for action to improve local areas against ‘floor targets’ for education, health and public safety.
    LDALondon Development Agency – the RDA for London.
    LDFLocal development framework – flexible planning document produced at the area scale by local authorities. The intention is that they should function in a similar fashion to a development masterplan.
    LDDCLondon Docklands Development Corporation – the Urban Development Corporation with responsibility for regenerating the area around what is now Canary Wharf.
    LSCLearning and Skills Council – responsible for planning and funding education and training in England for those not in the university sector.
    LSPLocal Strategic Partnership – responsible for delivering the Neighbourhood Renewal national strategy. LSPs map directly on to local authority boundaries and administer the use of the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) in the 88 most deprived local authority areas.
    LSVTLarge Scale Voluntary Transfer – introduced under the Conservative government, this has been the main mechanism for transferring the ownership of local authority housing stock to the housing association sector.
    NAONational Audit Office – a parliamentary body responsible for auditing the work of government departments, executive agencies and other public bodies.
    NDCNew Deal for Communities – establishes local organisations to tackle indicators of social deprivation in specifically targeted areas, with no remit for physical reconstruction.
    NRFNeighbourhood Renewal Fund – sets ‘floor targets’ for improving indicators of social deprivation in the 88 most deprived local authority areas. It is administered at the local level by the LSPs.
    NRUNeighbourhood Renewal Unit – established in 2001, it is now part of CLG and oversees the government's Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy, administering the NDC, NRF and the LSPs.
    ODPMOffice of the Deputy Prime Minister – it was responsible for urban policy for England, 2001–06, and was replaced by the CLG.
    PFIPrivate Finance Initiative – a mechanism whereby the private sector builds and maintains a capital resource such as a school or a hospital and leases it back to the state for a fixed period, often 25 years, after which it reverts to state ownership.
    PPGPlanning Policy Guidance – guidance notes issued to local authorities on a variety of planning-related topics. Most of these were phased out in 2004–06, though some remain in force, where the advice has not fundamentally changed.
    PPPPublic Private Partnerships – partnership arrangements between the state and private enterprise to deliver a particular project.
    PPSPlanning Policy Statements – successor to the Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) notes, phased in from 2004.
    PSAPublic Service Agreement – introduced in 1998, these set targets for performance and value for money in public services.
    QuangoQuasi-Autonomous Non/National Government Organisation – a term popular in the 1970s and 1980s to describe executive agencies funded by central government but operating at one remove from direct democratic accountability. In the regeneration sector the term was classically applied to the UDCs.
    RDARegional development agencies – established in 1998–99 with a remit to foster regional economic development. Transferred from the DETR to the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2001. In the same year the RDAs were given responsibility for distributing the Single Programme (‘Single Pot’) funding that replaced SRB.
    RPARegional planning authorities – operate in England. Unelected bodies which have overall responsibility for producing the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) and overseeing the operation of the RDAs.
    RSARegional Selective Assistance – discretionary grants available to encourage firms to locate or expand in designated Assisted Areas.
    RSLRegistered social landlord – a body responsible for building and operating social housing while operating in the private sector with or without central government grants from the Housing Corporation. Often used as an alternative phrase for housing associations.
    RSSRegional Spatial Strategy – overall plans for how land is to be developed within a region over a 15–20-year period. These superseded Regional Planning Guidance in 2004. Although drawn up by the RPAs, RSSs must be approved by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
    SAPStandard Assessment Procedure – a measure of a building's energy efficiency.
    SCPSustainable Communities Plan – launched in 2003, this sets out the government's long-term programme for delivering sustainable communities throughout England.
    SEEDASouth East England Development Agency – RDA for south east England.
    SFIESelective Finance for Investment in England – funds new investment projects that lead to long-term improvements in productivity, skills and employment.
    SIPSocial Inclusion Partnership – Scottish agencies with a remit similar to the LSPs, which attempted to coordinate the actions of other agencies operating in an area towards promoting social inclusion. These were phased out 2003–04.
    SINCSite of Importance for Nature Conservation – a national network of non-statutorily protected wildlife sites, generally administered by local authorities in partnership with nature conservation organisations.
    SMESmall and medium-sized enterprises.
    SPDSingle Programming Document – a strategy document that maps priorities at the regional level with the objectives of the ERDF.
    SPGSupplementary Planning Guidance – produced by local authorities to cover a range of issues around a particular site, these are legally binding material considerations in subsequent decisions on planning permission.
    SRBSingle Regeneration Budget – major national funding programme for urban regeneration, 1994–2001. Replaced by the Single Programme administered by RDAs.
    SuDSSustainable (Urban) Drainage Systems – umbrella term for a collection of technologies which attempt to slow, reduce and purify discharges of rainwater runoff.
    TECTraining and Enterprise Council – executive agencies which operated at the regional level in the 1980s and 1990s with responsibility for fostering enterprise culture and economic development.
    UDCUrban development corporation – 1980s bodies set up by central government to bypass local authorities and undertake specific localised projects levering in private capital, e.g. London Docklands Development Corporation.
    URCUrban regeneration company – pioneered in the late 1990s, it became a central part of central government policy in the 2000 Urban White Paper. Established to act as a coordinating body (with no significant resources of its own) to bring together local parties to produce development plans for an area/city.
    UTFUrban Task Force – body headed up by architect Richard Rogers which had a significant influence on early new Labour thinking on cities. It produced Towards an Urban Renaissance in 1999.
    WCEDWorld Commission on Environment and Development – also known as the Brundtland Commission, its 1987 report produced one of the first definitions of sustainable development.
    WEFOWelsh European Funding Office – agency of the Welsh Assembly government responsible for managing applications for funds from the European Union.
  • Keeping up to Date

    Urban regeneration is a rapidly evolving field and it can be quite difficult to keep up with all the changes, which is why certain key sources are worth consulting on a regular basis. The names of government departments and their web addresses change over time and departments dealing with urban regeneration seem to be re-branded on a regular basis. Nonetheless government sites are very useful in giving access to key policy documents. It is often helpful to supplement these rather technical documents with the evaluations of them produced by newspapers and pressure groups, although one should always remember the political position from which journalists and lobbyists are working.

    http://www.lexisnexis.com/uk/nexis Those readers who are subscribed to this part of the Lexis-Nexis database have access to a text-searchable archive of UK newspaper articles which stretches back into the early 1990s.

    http://www.regeneration-uk.com Provides an excellent portal with links to a variety of sources for news and other resources, though perhaps with a more economic emphasis.

    http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/ Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland

    http://wales.gov.uk/ The main portal for the Welsh Assembly and Welsh Assembly government – the individual departments do not have separate sites.

    http://scotland.gov.uk/ The main portal for the Scottish Government – the individual departments do not have separate sites.

    http://www.communities.gov.uk/ Department for Communities and Local Government in England, with good links to relevant parts of other departments and executive agencies.

    http://www.cabe.org.uk/ Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has lots of good material on urban design.

    http://www.rtpi.org.uk/ The Royal Town Planning Institute is the professional body for planners in the UK and has excellent coverage of the latest news and issues in the planning arena. It also has separate content specifically relating to Scotland.

    http://www.riba.org/ The Royal Institute of British Architects is the professional body for UK architects and has good content on current debates in the world of design.

    http://www.bura.org.uk/ The British Urban Regeneration Association, a not-for-profit body championing the interests of those involved in regeneration.

    http://www.intbau.org/ The International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism is a global organisation which promotes local character and traditional architecture. Its patron is HRH the Prince of Wales and it can be seen as broadly new urbanist in outlook.


    • Blairite: the adjectival form of Blair, who led the Labour government between 1997 and 2007. The word ‘Blairite’ refers to the supporters and policies of Blair's government. The hallmarks of Blairite policy include the increased use of markets to deliver public services, but reined in through partnership with the public sector, and pro-European and devolutionary policies.
    • Bond: a bond is a financial instrument that represents a debt security, whereby the bond holder lends money at a rate of interest that is repaid at the end of the term, or when the bond ‘matures’.
    • Brownfield: refers to previously used land. The word ‘brownfield’ was coined in opposition to the term ‘greenfield’, which designates a development site in a previously undeveloped areas. It includes the categories derelict land, which is previously used, and contaminated land, which is previously used and polluted in some way. Brownfield is synonymous with the US term ‘brownland’.
    • Capital: in a financial sense, capital is any asset that can be used or invested. It is usually taken to mean privately owned wealth. In recent times capital has also been used in the sense of human capital or social capital, to indicate the strength of social networks, in terms of shared interests and civic engagement.
    • Discourse: a discourse is a set of specific meanings or representations that are attached to certain things. So, for example, one discourse of inner cities represents them as dangerous and crime-ridden. Because different groups often represent things in different ways, there may be different discourses about the same thing. A contesting discourse of inner cities that is becoming more dominant is that they are vibrant and diverse places to live.
    • Equity: the principle of fairness between groups of people, often designated as a key principle of sustainable development. Equity can also mean the share of a person's ownership in an asset when used in a financial context.
    • EU: The European Union (EU) is a political body of 27 member states. The EU evolved from the European Community (EC) at the Maastricht Treaty in 1993. The European Commission represents one of its political bodies, and forms policy on regional development, agriculture and the environment, among other things.
    • Gentrification: the process by which buildings or residential areas are improved over time, which leads to increasing house prices and an influx of wealthier residents who force out the poorer population of an area.
    • Glocalisation: a term derived by combining localisation and globalisation, which highlights the idea of behaviour which is simultaneously acting to an increasing degree at both a specific local level and at the global scale (“act locally, think globally”). In the specific context of governance it can be used to refer to the hollowing out of the nation state, with powers increasingly passing upward to supranational organisations and downward to local communities.
    • Holistic: literally means addressing the whole. It is usually used to mean an integrated approach that considers all aspects of a problem.
    • Infrastructure: in the context of urban regeneration, infrastructure designates the ‘hard’ engineered features of the urban environment, including roads, water pipes, electricity, waste systems, railways, pavements, lighting, and so forth.
    • Managerialism: see New Localism.
    • Metrocentric: a term used to describe a focus on central city issues.
    • Mixed development: a general term to designate developments that include more than one kind of use. Usually, mixed developments include retail uses (shops), residential (homes), business premises (offices) and leisure uses (cafés, bars and so forth). The term is also sometimes used to designate a mixture of residents and users; this can include mixed tenure (i.e. some rental, some owner-occupied), mixed income groups and mixed ethnicities.
    • Neoliberal: an approach that believes markets provide the best solution to social problems. So, for example, the introduction of carbon trading as a way to curtail greenhouse gas emissions is a neoliberal policy response. The approach builds upon classic economic ideas developed by Adam Smith, and was championed by the New Right in the USA during the 1980s.
    • New Labour: term applied to Tony Blair's Labour government that took power in the 1997 general election. They were considered ‘New’ as they moved away from traditional left-wing policies (such as their long-standing affiliation with the Trade Unions) towards the centre ground, or so-called ‘Third Way’. The idea that they were ‘New’ also articulated the fact that this was the first Labour government for almost 20 years, and that they were led by a young dynamic leader.
    • New Localism: is used to describe the tendency of Blairite policies to devolve the implementation of policy goals down to the local level. A key feature of this trend is the devolution of management to the local level in order to achieve policy goals more efficiently, although the political power to decide what those goals should be is generally not devolved. The New Localism is thus closely linked to the emergence of managerialism at the local level.
    • Procurement: the acquisition of goods or services for an organisation or individual at the best possible price. The EU public procurement directive requires public bodies to put all their procurements out to competitive tender in order to reduce corruption and ensure that the cheapest services and goods are obtained.
    • Public Realm: commonly used term meaning public spaces and activities. Sometimes applied to areas of policy that directly concern the public.
    • Quango: an acronym for QUasi-Autonomous Non- (sometimes ‘National’) Government Organisation. Quangos have proliferated under New Labour, as various powers and responsibilities of the state are devolved to organisations that are neither public nor private. Quangos have been criticised because they are not democratically elected and are often not accountable to the public for their actions. The field of urban regeneration is populated by many quangos.
    • Remediation: the process of cleaning up polluted brownfield land.
    • Thatcherite: the adjectival form of Thatcher, a Conservative party politician who was Prime Minister between 1979 and 1990. She was the first female Prime Minister in the UK and the longest-serving PM of the twentieth century. Her government was associated with introducing right-wing neoliberal policies from the USA and reducing the role of the state in providing for basic social needs like health and housing.


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