David Cameron’s recent statement about the need to improve estates where there is a culture of anti-social behaviour is to be broadly welcomed. However, simply knocking down so called ‘sink estates’ and providing £140m funding for rebuilding, relationship counselling and parenting classes is not going to be enough if we want to deliver wholesale regeneration of these sites.
The decision about whether to rebuild or regenerate is made for a variety of reasons. Our approach to regeneration and renovation is as much about the people as it is the buildings; no regeneration is sustainable unless you support the people who live in the area marked for improvement. Residents need practical, holistic support to change behaviours, gain employment and improve their lives and environment. With over 100 years’ experience of regenerating communities, we provide this much needed combination of social and economic regeneration, through our Community Investment Team.
We have already had a lot of success in regenerating sites over the years. One of our most successful and high profile regeneration programmes is the Market Estate in Islington, now known as Parkside Place. After lengthy consultation with the residents and the council, a decision was made to completely rebuild and regenerate the estate at a total project cost of £70 million. We also invested £1 million of the budget to create new play areas for children and new gardens. There are now 421 homes, a mix of private and social housing, facing the radically transformed Caledonian Park. Three years on from completing the project the outdoor facilities are well used and it has an open and welcoming feel.
There are no quick fixes. People and communities need tools that empower them to improve their own lives and their neighbourhoods. New buildings alone will not provide this.