Hilary Homfray joins Anthony Collins Solicitors after working for Birmingham City Council for 14 years. With more than 60,000 properties, she was kept busy!
Over the past 30 years we have worked with local authorities, community groups, developers, housing associations and indeed the Government itself, often engaging in official programmes. Indeed two of the examples given by the Government in its “Estate Regeneration - a Statement” document were projects in which we had a hand.
In our experience some of the most stunning examples of enduring neighbourhood regeneration has occurred where there has been very little public subsidy, beyond the use of public land. These projects typically have three components: a shared vision between the organisations making it happen; genuine engagement with the local community and a robust process for bringing together resources to deliver the programme. Many of our clients have already achieved “great regeneration” benefitting local communities. But there is more to be done.
Anyone wanting to express an initial interest in the Government’s new programme (which itself is still taking shape) must abide by “Guiding principles” which cover:
- delivering regeneration through the redevelopment of existing social housing estates;
- viability, with financial considerations paramount;
- development vehicles should be private sector bodies or joint ventures and their leveraged finance be classed as private sector borrowing;
- sources of funding;
- the preparatory work already undertaken, such as land assembly, identification of land ownership, initial construction work, or identification of infrastructure links or opportunities;
- community engagement;
- arrangements for existing residents;
- what tenure mix is proposed, including affordable housing provision;
- the local planning context;
- the position of the local authority;
- a net increase in new housing supply and be value for money;
- wider societal benefits demonstrated by the proposal, such as positive effects on local employment, health, poverty and education and training;
- a delivery plan, with a workable and reasonable timetable;
- what non-housing projects are involved as part of the concept to make the estate more attractive a place to live.
There is perhaps an “innocence” about this list of principles, but they are good hooks on which to hang a proposal. There may be a scheme that has had to be shelved or deferred, or there may be a community group that wants to know how it can harness all the agencies in its area to deliver better homes and facilities in an area. The Government wants to hear about all of these.
There are lots of ways in which the Anthony Collins Estate Regeneration team can help, whether in capturing the vision or helping to address the technical detail (procurement, state aid, title, funding etc.). The purpose of this firm is to “improve lives, communities and society”. Helping to respond to the Government’s invitation is central to our purpose and aligns with our considerable skills and experience.
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