Regeneration: the three-legged stool

Stool Icon with the words physical, social, economic and environment on it

When we think of regeneration projects, it’s easy to name commercial property developments with flagship stores or converted warehouses.

But if we look for definitions of regeneration for use as a public policy, we find broad descriptions which refer to three factors that contribute to a successful environment: economic, physical and social.

‘Regeneration can be defined as the holistic process of reversing economic, social and physical decay in areas where it has reached a stage when market forces alone will not suffice’ (Regeneration, renewal and regional development, ODPM, 2004)

More specifically, urban regeneration was defined by Roberts & Sykes as: ‘a comprehensive and integrated vision and action which leads to the resolution of urban problems and which seeks to bring about a lasting improvement in the economic, physical, social and environmental condition of an area that has been subject to change.’

Each of these three factors are referred to as essential for creating a regeneration environment, often using this analogy:

‘Regeneration is a three-legged stool needing to address the physical environment, local economy and, most importantly, the community around it’ (Chris Brown, chief executive of Igloo Regeneration Fund).

The following definition of physical regeneration even refers to the other strategic ‘legs’, implying that it can’t be a standalone initiative:

‘Physical regeneration is… work on the physical fabric of an area where such work forms part of a strategy to promote social, physical and economic improvements in a given locality, rather than just redevelopment driven solely by market forces. Such work may range in scale from major developments to simple refurbishments of public sector housing.’ (Commission for Racial Equality, 2007)

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