The Importance of Urban Regeneration
Urban regeneration is action taken to reverse the economic decline, unemployment, poor infrastructure, and social equity being experienced in certain areas of our country and in countries around the world. It is carried out through revamping physical structures, creating innovative communities and improving the economy in those areas. Local councils undergo regeneration programmes, investing public money as a way to attract more prime investment and encourage growth.
You could view the renewal of Christchurch city as an example of urban regeneration. Over the last nine years, it has been undergoing a complete transformation, with new innovative buildings and creative projects attempting to bring life, community and economic vitality back to the city. Regenerate Christchurch, took the lead on the sustainable regeneration of Christchurch in 2016, testing conventional thinking, working with communities and businesses to balance goals and aspirations with affordability, in order to achieve all desired outcomes.
The first regeneration plan for the city is situated in the Cranford Basin. This area has been developed into a multi-purpose wetland with new native trees being planted, and native birds being encouraged to come back. Thirty-eight hectares of land outside of the Basin have been considered by the Christchurch City Council for residential development, being put forward in a regeneration plan for Regenerate Christchurch to work on.
David Jones, the Urban Development Leader for Calibre Consulting NZ, recently met with Greg Orchard, Chief Executive of Accessible Properties NZ, to discuss the future of our country’s “urban regeneration and development.”
Accessible Properties NZ, is a charitable organisation, which focuses on creating an inclusive community through providing social and disability housing. The target audience for the organisation being those with disabilities or on low incomes. Accessible Properties NZ is about community based development and regeneration.
Their aim is to be a committed and personalised tenancy service, providing quality homes which meet tenant’s needs, impacting positively on their wellbeing and life chances. Their tenancy managers are engaged and help connect their tenants to communities and to any social support services they require. They have more than 2700 homes throughout the country and have been working to make safe and secure housing available for kiwis for more than 60 years.
Greg believes Accessible Properties role in helping with urban regeneration is to act as a facilitator, promoting a “comprehensive and purposeful approach” to the regeneration of communities in need. As they have a relatively small budget, they rely on working with partners and funders who all share the common goal of working for the community and making a positive impact on their tenants.
There is a new emerging trend of urban regeneration. Previously, the focus was on improving physical infrastructure, specifically, in the area of housing. But now, regeneration programmes are taking initiative and looking at a long-term timeline of what an area needs to thrive, primarily that it needs a community.
To create a stable and engaged community, the key is to revitalise social and economic regeneration, alongside physical regeneration. Depending on which region these programs are being started in, there must be flexibility to adapt to what that specific region and area needs. Rather than just improving the physical environment, regeneration action also needs to be taken in terms of key issues such as unemployment, poor health and educational inequality.
Organisations such as Regenerate Christchurch and Accessible Properties are leading the way of regeneration in New Zealand. As David wrote, they are “willing to shake the tree and make a difference, bringing stakeholders on the journey with them and impacting positively on those in need.”