Just before Christmas the Mayor of London issued a draft Good Practice Guide for Estate Regeneration (Homes for Londoners). Whilst the guide contained nothing earth shattering, it was an attempt to place residents back at the centre of regeneration.
In a previous blog, I spoke about the long term nature of regeneration programmes meaning that the community changes over time. However, there are a really stalwart group who will soldier on and who are involved from start to finish. They also tend to be the most forgotten and overlooked group.
The residents who want to exercise their right to return can easily be forgotten or become a list of names that ‘have to be consulted’. People, and by people I mean officers, often tend to forget that these are the original residents that are giving up their homes to make way for the bright and shiny new homes for sale and it is they that are helping housing providers meet their new build targets.
Here is a special plea to go with the Guide. These residents should be cherished and treated with the utmost respect. All too often they are the older residents who never wanted to move in the first place, they are more vulnerable and it is them hold the history of an area. These residents are often living in half empty buildings that are no longer being kept up or they have been moved off to a decant property where they know no-one. Those who hold their fate in your hands, because things are being ‘done’ to them, should think about making some simple pledges and checking how well you are working against them:
- Don’t let buildings and communal areas become run down and ensure occupied properties, often in half empty buildings, are in the same state of good repair as you would for any tenant
- Work to support a community who has been dispersed and don’t just check box consult with decanted residents, they are still the residents of the future estate
- Recognise how hard this is for some people who are losing their homes , they will be resistant, they may be curmudgeonly and they are upset. You have no project without them.
Remember, regeneration is first and foremost about people.