Regeneration and engagement: a call for case studies

The UK faces a housing crisis and one of the ways that some councils are increasing the number of homes is through estate regeneration. This can have the benefit of improving housing standards for existing tenants while increasing housing density in a human and community friendly way.

However, estate regeneration takes time and it involves the upheaval of community life and the lives of individuals. Engagement with residents throughout the process is essential to producing the best quality design results and thriving, resilient communities.  In London, it’s now a requirement to show engagement in estate regeneration through a ballot.

According to the Mayor of London’s website:

From 18 July 2018, the Mayor requires any landlord seeking GLA funding for strategic estate regeneration projects which involve the demolition of social homes to demonstrate that they have secured resident support for their proposals through a ballot. This is to make sure that GLA funding only supports estate regeneration projects if residents have had a clear say in plans and support them going ahead.

But with hundreds of millions of pounds and greater housing capacity on the line, housing authorities, developers and councils could be wary of putting proposals to an up and down ballot. After all, plebiscites are notoriously unpredictable. The best plan is to ensure that residents are happy with proposals before going  to ballot. Ensuring residents are happy means deep and long term engagement with the local community. But some methods of engagement are more effective and more ‘real’ than others, and of course there are many more benefits to engagement than just getting a ‘yes’ in a local ballot.

Building homes and building trust

At the LGiU as part of our Public Trust Lab, we have been working with Paul Simpson an engagement consultant who works with local authorities on re-development. Through a series of workshops with architects, housing associations, local authority regeneration staff and others we have been exploring the best ways to communicate with and engage with residents to achieve better housing options for communities while ensuring that residents are fully engaged in plans. We have talked about when and how to engage residents, how to avoid conflict and how to reach consensus and resolution over potentially highly contentious issues.

A lot of it boils down to building a relationship of trust over a long period of time. But saying trust is required is different from actually helping people build it.  In our final workshop later this month, we will be looking at successful methods and best practice for engagement in a highly changeable atmosphere.

We will be sharing the learning in a best practice toolkit early in 2019. But we need your help! We’re looking for stories and case studies of those who have engaged residents and communities in regeneration and development projects. We want to know what worked. We want to know what didn’t work and why. And we want to know how you sustained trust when circumstances changed.

You can share your stories with us for publication with full credit or we’re happy to share your experiences anonymously. Email me at Ingrid.koehler@lgiu.org.uk for more information or to send your case studies.

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