The scale of the opportunity
With a stable government now in place for the next five years, there seems to be a genuine commitment to deliver on the promise to ‘level-up’ the country by implementing town centre regeneration programmes. There is a political imperative behind this, but also huge challenges for towns which must be addressed.
There are over 200 live opportunities for towns, cities and regions to secure a share of the £3.6 billion of funding currently on the table. Further phases of the Future High Streets Fund and opportunities for Town Deals are due later this year, and there will surely be more to come in the upcoming budget. Meanwhile it is worth noting the evolution of Homes England to increasingly focus on regeneration and placemaking, reflecting the wider importance of creating happy, healthy, integrated and thriving new communities.
Creating Liveable Places
What do we mean by Liveable Places? For us, liveable places are those which;
- put their community at their centre;
- deliver long term social and economic value;
- are well designed with high quality public spaces;
- focus on collaboration and engagement; and
- have sustainable solutions at their heart.
These liveable places will attract the critical mass of people necessary to support inclusive growth. They will be well-connected and able to respond to the challenges presented by a world that continues to change at pace.
Funding Liveable Places
The core requirements to secure funding to deliver this vision remain based on The Green Book, which offers guidance on how to evaluate projects, and The Five Case Model recommended by HM Treasury for developing business cases.
However, it is clear that changes are being considered to prioritise investment for left-behind locations, not just places which easily demonstrate land value uplift to support a Benefit-Cost Ratio. It is these ‘forgotten places’, which often sit outside major regional centres, that are crying out for town centre regeneration and investment to help them level-up and connect with their metropolitan neighbours. In response, the Towns Fund prospectus suggests that there is an ambition to have a more holistic and nuanced discussion about a comprehensive strategy for placemaking. This will help to create a better framework for responding and adapting to change in a way that ensures a broader spread of investment across the country.
Five key attributes for success
This is a fast moving and constantly changing environment, where programmes of intervention are being developed and evolving even as they are being actively rolled out.
Having worked with numerous combined authorities in the development and implementation of their devolution deals, as well as with Local Enterprise Partnerships and City Regions on their funding programmes, we have seen some recurring themes emerge. Our involvement in the award of over £500m of European Regional Development Funding has placed us in a unique position to identity what we see as five key attributes for success.