I recently took part in a round table event hosted by Prospect Magazine in partnership with Home Group to discuss regeneration.
It’s a subject that often sparks controversy, which may, in many cases, be due to the fact that we rarely hear about the successful regen projects.
In my mind, when it’s done for the right reasons, regeneration can only be a good thing. It’s about working collaboratively with communities to bring them on the journey with us, giving them choice and letting them get involved in decision making about the future of their homes. When you genuinely want to improve the environment and lifestyles of the people who already live there, what’s not to like?
But regeneration does not mean gentrification.
Of course gentrification can and does happen. And this is particularly prevalent in the south, where land values are higher and significant commercial gains can be made by private developers. It’s in these instances that we can find ourselves with dispersed communities and loss of identity.
As housing associations it is absolutely not within our interest to do this.
Housing associations by their very nature are not driven by profit. Our social purpose drives everything we do and therefore regeneration takes the interests of the community it impacts incredibly seriously. If it doesn’t benefit the community, we won’t do it.
Our Rayners Lane project is a strong example of large-scale regeneration that was driven by community need. There were originally 539 homes, we grew this provision to 800 homes, and 500 of these were occupied by original tenants. We also created a thriving community hub for local people to get involved with sport, community, cultural, health and wellbeing opportunities. It’s something we are incredibly proud of.
So, if you’d like to read more about regeneration and the discussion that took place during the roundtable, where I was joined by Home Group customer Carole Bell, as well as Melanie Onn MP and Cllr Claire Coghill, check out this article on how regeneration should be done.
Carole Bell also wrote about her personal regeneration journey for Prospect. Read Carole’s article here
And finally, if you’d like to learn more about Home Group’s approach, including more on our Rayners Lane project, my colleague, Brian Ham, wrote on the topic for the Independent last year. Read his blog, Regeneration is not a dirty word.