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Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance

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This report comes at a pivotal time for urban regeneration. Chapter One looks at quality of design. We recommend that Today, cities are seen as assets rather than liabilities. Their the design of buildings and public spaces be hardwired into role as engines of economic growth is widely accepted and the public institutions responsible for delivering sustainable their spheres of influence – the city regions – are becoming communities by placing design champions at strategic board recognised as fundamental building blocks in the national level, making design quality a corporate objective, and fabric. Against this backdrop of a shift in culture, milestones reinforcing this in the way Government funds and tasks their such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Areas, growing housing activity. We recommend a strengthening of design advice to demand and proposals to develop London for the 2012 ministers, mayors, local authority leaders and cabinets. We Olympic Games present once in a lifetime opportunities.
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Towards a Strong
Urban Renaissance

An independent report by
members of the Urban Task Force
chaired by Lord Rogers of Riverside

Contents
The Urban Renaissance six years on
2
Introduction
4
1 Design excellence
5
2 Social wellbeing
9
3 Environmental responsibility
12
4 Delivery, fiscal and legal frameworks
15
Postscript
18
Acknowledgments
19
The Urban Renaissance six years on
by Richard Rogers
In 1998 the Deputy Prime Minister invited me to set up the
• Local authority performance is on an upward trend.
Urban Task Force to identify causes of urban decline and
The Audit Commission’s Comprehensive Performance
establish a vision for our cities, founded on the principles
Assessment of local authorities across the country has
of design excellence, social wellbeing and environmental
found the vast majority to be ‘good’ through to ‘excellent’.
responsibility within appropriate delivery, fiscal and legal
• There has been some progress to reduce the environmental
frameworks. Many of our 105 recommendations have been
impact of new buildings with a new and welcome code of
addressed by the Government, shaping much of current
sustainable building.
and future national policy on England’s towns and cities.
• There has been a significant increase in investment in
public transport infrastructure, with greater attention given
In the original Urban Task Force Report, we set out a vision:
to the needs of pedestrians and sustainable transport.
a vision of well designed, compact and connected cities
supporting a diverse range of uses – where people live,
• Private investment has been levered into the cities.
work and enjoy leisure time at close quarters – in a
Since 1996, £2 billion of private sector investment
sustainable urban environment well integrated with public
has flowed into the Manchester city region alone.
transport and adaptable to change. Six years on, and with
• £39 billion has been allocated over the next five years to
a third successive Labour Government in place, there are
deliver the Sustainable Communities Plan across England.
some notable successes:
• Cities and regions have greater powers to control their
• For the first time in 50 years there has been a measurable
destiny.
change of culture in favour of towns and cities, reflecting
a nationwide commitment to the Urban Renaissance.
Thanks to these measures, and a period of sustained
• People have started to move back into city centres:
economic growth and stability, England’s cities are very
in 1990 there were 90 people living in the heart of
different places from the post-industrial centres of
Manchester, today there are 25,000 residents; over the
unemployment and failing public services of twenty
same period the population of central Liverpool has
years ago. English cities have established themselves
increased fourfold.
as powerhouses in the UK economy and centres for
cultural innovation. They stand more confidently on the
• By adhering to the principle of sequential testing, re-use
international stage.
of brownfield land instead of building houses on greenfield
sites has been encouraged. Today, a national average of
This progress is cause for celebration, but not evidence that
70% of new development is on brownfield land, compared
the job is done. New issues have emerged, and old issues
with 56% in 1997.
remain, which require renewed attention from Government.
• Building densities have increased, from an average of 25
• Failure to keep up with the challenge of climate change
dwellings per hectare in 1997 to 40 dwellings per hectare
threatens enduring environmental degradation.
in 2005, making better use of our land and resources.
• Middle class families are moving out of towns and cities
• The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
in search of better schools, less congestion and a safer
is now an established champion of design quality; the
environment. In 2001, only 28% of people in inner London
Academy for Sustainable Communities and the regional
were aged 45 or older, compared with 40% across the UK
centres have been launched to address the skills deficit.
as a whole.
2

Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance
• Massive inequalities persist in our cities. Competition
making processes and institutions which lack coherent
for space pushes up prices for housing, making access
area-based delivery mechanisms.
for lower income households much harder.
• Whilst focusing on sustainable communities, we have
• Social housing supply is too low. The Barker Report
weakened our stance on urban regeneration.
estimated that an extra £1.2bn is required each year
to subsidise 17,000 additional social housing units.
To solve the problems facing us today and build on our
• Growing housing demand is a big challenge. How
successes to date we have to learn from the experience of
can we build compact, well-designed, sustainable
the past six years, reflect honestly on what has worked and
neighbourhoods which make best use of brownfield
where problems remain, and take decisions now to ensure
sites, are well served by public transport, hospitals,
the mechanisms to deliver an urban renaissance are fit to
schools and other amenities, and do not weaken
meet the exacting demands of the vision.
existing urban areas?
That is why I have asked my colleagues from the Urban Task
• Opportunities to create sustainable, environmentally
Force to collaborate in writing this short report. It is not a
friendly communities are being missed because transport
comprehensive update of ‘Towards an Urban Renaissance,’
provision and funding is still too dislocated from the
the final report of the Urban Task Force in 1999. Rather, it is
overall planning process.
an independent report based on the personal experience of
• Few well-designed integrated urban projects stand out
Urban Task Force members on the ground, designed to
as international exemplars of sustainable communities,
stimulate public debate and encourage new thinking.
despite public investment in new housing.
• Design quality is not a central objective for public bodies
I hope this work will help us realise the widely shared vision
with responsibility for the built environment. These often
of a lasting Urban Renaissance in England.
lack design input at board or cabinet level.
• The confusing sponsorship and funding arrangements of
the Regional Development Agencies – through which they
are 85% funded by ODPM but sponsored by the DTI –
have led them to focus on economic development,
jobs and growth rather than high quality, well-designed,
sustainable urban development.
• Design advice to Ministers, Mayors, local authority
leaders and cabinets is still too limited.
Richard Rogers
November 2005
• The plethora of overlapping, but differently funded
and monitored, regeneration bodies has reduced the
effectiveness of public sector led regeneration schemes.
Sustainable regeneration of large complex areas (e.g.
Thames Gateway) suffers from fragmented decision-
3

Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance
Introduction
This report comes at a pivotal time for urban regeneration.
Chapter One looks at quality of design. We recommend that
Today, cities are seen as assets rather than liabilities. Their
the design of buildings and public spaces be hardwired into
role as engines of economic growth is widely accepted and
the public institutions responsible for delivering sustainable
their spheres of influence – the city regions – are becoming
communities by placing design champions at strategic board
recognised as fundamental building blocks in the national
level, making design quality a corporate objective, and
fabric. Against this backdrop of a shift in culture, milestones
reinforcing this in the way Government funds and tasks their
such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Areas, growing housing
activity. We recommend a strengthening of design advice to
demand and proposals to develop London for the 2012
ministers, mayors, local authority leaders and cabinets. We
Olympic Games present once in a lifetime opportunities.
recommend that public transport be funded and prioritised
Decisions taken today will dictate for a generation whether
based on its potential to deliver urban regeneration, not just
English cities can realise their potential to shape a more
on a transport business case.
sustainable future for us all.
Chapter Two looks at social wellbeing. We want to
This national sense of urgency is reinforced by pressing
encourage communities of mixed tenure, income and
environmental challenges at a global and local level. In
ethnicity by increasing the supply of affordable rented and
March 2005, the Government launched a new strategy for
owner occupied housing within existing built up areas close
sustainable development, which set out principles through
to local amenities and open space. We also recommend a
which people can enjoy a better quality of life without
target to transform all social housing estates into mixed
compromising the quality of life of future generations. In this
tenure communities by 2012.
report, we show how urban regeneration has a crucial role to
play in delivering that strategy. Done well, urban development
Chapter Three considers our response to pressing
can help us live within the limits of environmental resources
environmental challenges. We urge an approach to the
and slow demand for energy and materials through efficiency
growth areas that strengthens and regenerates existing
measures and recycling. Done wrong, development can
urban communities and takes a brownfield-first approach
increase pollution, widen social and economic inequalities
to development. We recommend extending the national Code
and deprive future generations of environmental assets.
for Sustainable Buildings to all new housing developments
by the end of 2006, and encourage the Government to extend
The vision of the Urban Task Force remains an integrated
similar measures to existing buildings.
and multifaceted one founded on the creation of urban
communities that:
Chapter Four examines the delivery, fiscal and legal
• are well designed, compact and connected
frameworks within which the principles of urban renewal must
be turned into practical action. We believe city governments
• support a diverse range of uses in a sustainable
and mayors should be empowered to raise taxes and funds,
urban environment
and we recommend Urban Regeneration Companies be given
• are well-integrated with public transport
the powers they need to take a pre-eminent role.
• are adaptable to change.
True to that vision, and in keeping with the original mission
of the Urban Task Force, we make recommendations in this
report based on the principles of:
• design excellence
• social wellbeing, and
• environmental responsibility
set within a viable and sustainable economic, legislative
and delivery framework.
4

Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance
1
Design excellence
Introduction
investing in the country’s urban regeneration effort. Fourthly,
A key message of the Urban Task Force was that urban
public bodies lack core delivery skills.
neighbourhoods should be vital, safe and beautiful places
to live. This is not just a matter of aesthetics, but of
The Urban Task Force report argued strongly that the
economics. As cities compete with each other to host
institutions tasked with delivering the urban renaissance
increasingly footloose international companies, their
(such as the Regional Development Agencies, Urban
credentials as attractive, vibrant homes are major selling
Development Corporations, Urban Regeneration Companies
points. This demands that ever greater significance be given
and English Partnerships) should place the quality of the
to the design and management of the public realm. Well-
built environment at the heart of their mission. This has not
designed and maintained public spaces should be at the
happened. Too many delivery agencies focus on site delivery
heart of any community. They are the foundation for public
rather than quality of design, so will never deliver the quality
interaction and social integration, and provide the sense of
and variety of urban communities championed by the Urban
place essential to engender civic pride.
Task Force. Ministers are also hampered in making planning
decisions when CABE – their adviser on design issues – has
Progress
been previously involved in the planning process.
It has been widely recognised that the physical and social
At the delivery end, design culture is not yet embedded in
spheres must be linked to be truly sustainable, and there has
the procurement and management process. The Urban
been a concerted attempt to tackle inequality by promoting
Task Force recommended that public funds should only be
more affordable housing. However, quality and delivery have
invested in significant urban projects that are subject to
been extremely weak. Despite over £2bn being invested by
design competitions and that all major schemes should be
central government in urban regeneration since 2000, only
conceived as three-dimensional spatial masterplans. While
a handful of completed projects can be considered of
the last six years has seen many competitions in the UK
international stature. The Millennium Village in Greenwich,
for urban masterplans, the vast majority have been badly
innovative schemes in Manchester and the many visionary
run, lagging well behind the standards of our European
Peabody Housing projects in London are encouraging
colleagues. Despite the wealth of design talent available
examples.
nationally and internationally, they have not yielded a new
generation of high quality solutions. The quality of design
The majority of new developments remain poorly designed,
briefs is often poor – ignoring the Urban Task Force
with public realm and buildings of a very low quality. Where
recommendations for integrated, spatial design that gives
some good practice has emerged, it tends to be in smaller
priority to connectivity, social inclusion, high quality public
‘infill’ schemes where designers can relate to an existing
space and sustainability. A clear and deliverable public
context. However, too many housing projects are just that –
realm strategy must be a pre-requisite for any sustainable
thoughtlessly laid out groups of cheaply built fragmented
community, rather than an afterthought or planning gain
residential units relatively isolated from surrounding
add-on. Strict design codes, such as those used for
communities. These often lack the core social and
planning layouts, are no replacement for well informed
commercial institutions that sustain urban life and any sense
design professionals.
of place or beauty. There is a risk of increased ghettoisation
between market and subsidised housing.
In our mind, the same high standards for sustainable
inclusive design should apply to private projects as to those
The reasons for this are four-fold. First, there is a lack of
driven by the public sector. In areas of the country where the
vision at the outset, compounded by overweight decision
housing market is overheated, we are concerned that the
making structures that are unable to focus and prioritise.
need for short-term ‘numbers’ is overtaking the need for
Secondly, the procurement and delivery process is
long-term vision. Many large-scale projects, often in sensitive
fragmented and not joined-up. Thirdly, quality of design is
town and city sites, are being developed in a piecemeal
not considered a priority by many of the public institutions
fashion without appropriate investment in the quality of the
1 Design excellence
5

Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance
The root of the problem is that decisions on urban transport
are taken piecemeal, in apparent isolation from their impact
on regeneration; indeed, there appears to be next to no
evaluation of the broad regeneration benefits that
investments would help bring about. Merseytram has stalled,
despite the renewal it would bring to a corridor stretching
from Liverpool’s Pier Head via Lime Street and Norris Green
to Kirkby. Manchester’s Metrolink extensions have not
started, despite their vital importance to the regeneration of
New East Manchester. Money is lacking to extend London’s
Docklands Light Railway through Barking Riverside, crucial
to the start of this key generation scheme in Thames
Although built to higher density, the poor design of this development
Gateway. Corby still lacks a passenger rail service, despite
in Appleton, Warrington, does little to convey a sense of place and
being a target for regeneration and an important part of the
public transport connections are poor.
sustainable communities plan. The examples could be
multiplied; the evidence is that the Department for Transport,
public realm, appropriate access and the design of individual
again dominated by highway engineers, is simply not part of
buildings. Although the levers of public funding and other
the government’s regeneration agenda.
control mechanisms cannot be brought to bear on private
projects, the design of individual housing units must be
Communities Minister David Miliband recently said, “All
improved and the quality increased to reflect advances in
departments should be regeneration departments.” That
new technologies, construction techniques and
must equally apply in central government, where we need far
environmental efficiency. The Urban Task Force did not
greater integration between the ODPM and the Department
address the issue of the private residential sector in detail,
for Transport in particular, and in our city administrations.
but it is clear that new measures are needed to ensure that
private housebuilders – despite their best intentions – do not
The challenge is to produce urban environments as good as
build a new generation of mono-functional enclaves based
those in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, Freiburg or
on lowest common denominator design.
Strasbourg. There is no reason why we should lag so far
behind the best practice of our neighbours.
Transport
Transport lies at the heart of urban regeneration. In the
Money for investment is one key. In French cities like
original Urban Task Force report we presented a vision
Strasbourg and Nantes, resources are found to support new
of how this should be done: road space would be planned,
tram routes that underpin regeneration; there is joined-up
as it is in the most advanced European cities, to give priority
urban policy. Reintegrating the different parts of the urban
to walking, cycling and public transport; a seamless-web
transport system is another: bus quality contracts are a start,
system of fast, efficient public transport would connect city
but very far from the seamless-web philosophy that is
centres with strong sub-centres developed around transport
needed. Re-educating the engineers, and creating a new
interchanges, allowing quick and easy transfer from express
profession of urban transport designers capable of
light rail to feeder buses; planned densities would increase
producing efficient and elegant urban environments, is a
around these points of maximum accessibility, and mixed
third. Good transport planning and good urban design go
uses would maximise easy access on foot to shops and
hand in hand.
services.
Challenges
In a few best-practice cities and towns there are signs
that this is beginning to happen. In London, the congestion
• Too much emphasis is given to the delivery of quantity
charge has helped civilise conditions in the centre, the
rather than the benefits of quality. Even when experienced
bus system has responded massively and flexibly to the
designers are involved in a regeneration project, the brief
challenge of growth, commuter rail has modernised and
often undervalues the benefits of design.
responded to rising demand. There are individual good
• High quality design is not integrated or hardwired into the
examples in other cities, especially in their central areas
procurement and delivery process of regeneration projects.
where civilised public spaces have been created. But they
• The attention given to design quality varies too much
are few and far between. Urban streets are over-engineered
across Government departments, their agencies and local
to maximise traffic flow, pedestrians and cyclists are still
authorities.
treated as second- or third-class citizens, and public
transport in most cities is totally un-integrated.
6

Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance
• Ministers, mayors, local authority leaders and cabinets
• Design quality is threatened by an excessive reliance on
receive too little good advice on design.
design codes rather than design professionals.
• Public sector clients lack the necessary skills to give
• While there have been welcome moves in some cities
significance to design quality from inception to realisation.
and boroughs to rebalance the relationship between
Major public clients do not have design champions at
vehicles and people by prioritising pedestrians, there
board or cabinet level or in executive positions, and do
is still much to be done.
not possess the appropriate design expertise to promote,
• Space continues to be wasted thanks to overly demanding
evaluate and deliver well-designed developments.
highway standards and sprawling road layouts, despite
• We lack clearly structured decision making bodies of a
explicit guidance requiring Local Authorities to review
manageable size to get things done.
their standards.
• Development briefs for key urban sites are poorly
• The poor design and lack of coordination of street
structured, often giving more importance to short term
furniture too often impedes its function and reduces the
commercial value than the creation of an integrated urban
aesthetic value of its surroundings.
vision to bring long term economic benefit.
Vision
• Too often, design is imposed on communities rather than
In our vision, high quality design is a central objective for
involving them. Community groups and local
public bodies responsible for delivering regeneration and is
representatives are still excluded from the decision-making
entrenched in the delivery of private sector residential
process and are not adequately supported by professional
communities. Public space takes priority over the car, well
facilitators. They are rarely involved by client groups in the
designed and complementary public and private realms
development of design briefs and are often excluded from
create a sense of place, and the built environment is fertile
selection panels.
ground in which communities can flourish.
Recommendations
Design quality and procurement
• Integrate and hard-wire quality of design of buildings and
public spaces into public institutions by placing design
champions or advisers at strategic board or cabinet level
and making design quality a corporate objective.
• Review the Government’s tasking framework and funding
agreements for all relevant public bodies to make
design a central component and require regular reports
on delivery. Use the comprehensive performance
assessment to do similar for local authorities.
Communal space is integral to the design of this development in
• Improve the quality of independent design advice
Malmo Western Harbour, Sweden.
available to ministers, mayors, local authority leaders
and cabinets in ways that complement the role of CABE
in the planning process.
• There are insufficient mechanisms in place to ensure that
housebuilders and developers follow through to deliver
• Insist that existing design competitions guidance
high quality schemes once they have acquired land from
(e.g. Commissioning a Sustainable and Well-Designed
public sector agencies.
City: a Guide to Competitive Selection of Architects and
• There is too often a separation between the design team
Urban Designers, GLA Architecture + Urbanism Unit,
appointed to carry out the masterplan and another design
July 2005) is followed in all regeneration projects which
team charged with delivering the detailed design of
receive public funding, ensuring open and transparent
individual units and places. It is a fragmented process that
procurement and high quality design briefs. A majority
creates fragmented environments.
of design competition jurors should be architects or
design professionals.
• The competitive bidding process is not used to the full
and is failing to provide opportunities for emerging design
• Ensure that design quality is delivered throughout the
talent in the UK and abroad to invest their design skills in
lifetime of urban design developments. For larger sites,
complex regeneration schemes across the UK.
commission spatial masterplans for the wider area, invite
1 Design excellence
7

Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance
developers to bid for individual sites on the basis of a
sub regional masterplanning to recognise, encourage
design proposal, not just a financial offer, and evaluate
and enable comprehensive regeneration.
tenders on the basis of design quality and long term
• Draft new design guidance for highway engineers
value-for-money, not solely on short term financial
and traffic planners that gives priority to the needs
considerations.
of pedestrians and demands a safe, high quality
• Develop mechanisms that ensure public participation
environment without imposing a rules-based recipe
and involvement in the development of urban vision
for over-engineering.
statements. Promote the involvement of professional
• Involve utility companies earlier in the planning process
facilitators to support community groups and qualified
so they can take responsibility for a strategic approach
designers at key stages of project development and
rather than being presented with problems to tackle in
implementation alongside landowners, developers and
too short a timeframe.
project sponsors.
• Place an architect or allied professional in a key advisory
Skills, research and education
position within the Olympic Delivery Authority.
• Tackle the lack of urban design skills within local
authorities by strengthening the role of the Regional
Transport
Centres of Excellence for Sustainable Communities,
• Fund and prioritise public transport based on its potential
developing a close working partnership between it
to contribute to a fully rounded urban renaissance, not
and the Leadership Centre for Local Government, and
just on a transport business case or simplistic job
ensuring they complement, rather than overlap with,
creation arguments.
the Academy for Sustainable Communities in Leeds.
• Extend the “London-type” bus franchising system
• Ensure public agencies and local authorities procure
to the rest of the country, so that certainty can be
and manage a high-quality design and development
introduced into public transport planning and delivery.
process by insisting they follow appropriate advice
This will enable developers and regeneration agencies
from CABE.
to have some confidence in the public transport
• Task an independent review team to scrutinise the
systems around which they are being asked to
formal education process followed by design
structure higher-density mixed use development.
professionals and recommend changes to ensure
Franchising is also virtually the only way of ensuring
a more integrated approach to planning, architecture,
integrated services, ticketing and fares.
landscaping and the social and ecological environments.
• Enforce the requirement set five years ago that Local
• Dedicate a greater proportion of government research
Authorities should review all highways and parking
funding into the quality of the built environment and
standards in the light of planning guidance on housing.
the public realm, rather than focusing on construction
• Review how public transport and Highways Agency
methods and costs.
decision making can be integrated more closely into
Started in the late 1990s, the Greenwich
Millennium Village in London’s Greenwich
Peninsula shows how good results can
match high expectations when a proper
commissioning process is in place.
Masterplanning by Erskine Tovatt.

8

Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance
2
Social wellbeing
Introduction
Economic recovery took longer in areas where previous
Cities drive prosperity and provide access to services.
decline had been steeper, such as Northern and Midlands
They bring diverse people together and offer shared spaces,
cities, but significant growth in the number of jobs has in
experiences and amenities such as parks and libraries,
the main led to falling poverty. Families with children have
schools and transport. These assets offer opportunities
further benefited through child tax credits and those in low
to people on low incomes and drive the growth of cities
paid jobs from working tax credits. Inequality between those
as magnets for the young seeking better lives. Even at their
on the lowest incomes and those of middle incomes has
lowest ebb, our declining cities offered these benefits and
reduced somewhat as a result, but the incomes of those
continued to attract many hopeful migrants while failing
at the top have continued to move away from the rest.
to retain the more established and more successful.
There are signs of neighbourhood recovery where
Progress
neighbourhood management and careful reinvestment
measures have been applied intensively. Council stock
The revival of our cities has been driven by economic
transfer in cities such as Bradford, Manchester and Liverpool
recovery and the steady expansion of jobs since 1993.
has attracted resources and stimulated investment in
Although unemployment and economic inactivity in deprived
renewal. Strong opposition to demolition plans for run-down
neighbourhoods are far above national average levels, most
Victorian terraces all over the North stems in part from
cities have experienced sharp falls in unemployment. Major
improvements to the fabric of these inner city areas, which
regional cities such as Leeds and Manchester now boast
were previously considered ‘out of bounds’. Sheffield,
growing numbers of highly skilled jobs. The Government’s
Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Glasgow
plans to move more of its key offices out of London should
have all attracted working incomers and held onto previously
encourage this trend.
declining communities, refuting the view that inner urban
areas are “clapped out”, obsolete and in terminal decline.
A focus on revaluing existing communities, in London and
other popular smaller cities around the country such as
Edinburgh, Durham, Chester and York is leading to creative
infill developments, mixed tenure, better transport and
competitive alternatives to out of town shopping. In many
ways, cities are making a comeback and extreme social
polarisation is no longer accelerating as it was in the 1980s
and 1990s.
Other specific advances have been made since the original
report of the Urban Task Force six years ago:
Imaginative infill
development, such as

• Over half of all social housing is now owned by housing
this example in Coptic
associations, increasing the potential for significant
Street, Camden, can help
investment, upgrading and intensive management. Arm’s
lead to more mixed and
length structures are proving their value through better
integrated communities.
This development

neighbourhood conditions.
of 23 maisonettes and
• Local authority performance ratings have shown an
flats was designed by
upward trend, and local authorities are playing a bigger
Avanti Architects for
a housing association.

2 Social wellbeing
9

Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance
role in controlling and managing urban environments by
supply in areas like the Thames Gateway and the outer
using powers to tackle mismanagement of private property
surrounds of all our big industrial conurbations.
such as Empty Dwelling Management Orders and selective
• New build housing outside the city is heavily subsidised
licensing of private landlords. Neighbourhood management
and attracts out mainly white, moderate income
is proving popular and successful and many alternative
households causing a deepening racial and social
local partnerships to deliver regeneration are emerging.
polarisation. The big exodus of certain social and ethnic
• Crime prevention and increased supervision measures are
groups from cities is creating growing racial segregation
having a positive impact – visible growth in street policing
within them. It reflects poor performance of schools,
and the number of neighbourhood wardens makes people,
environmental neglect and fear and insecurity in poorer
particularly mothers with children, feel safer. The
inner city areas in spite of some improvements. Our
Government’s financial and political investment in
challenge is to ensure that cities are net attractors and that
addressing antisocial behaviour has involved communities
they both attract and retain a diverse and balanced
across the country, equipping them with resources and
community. The biggest challenge is to hold onto working
clout to deal with local problems.
families.
• The Leadership Centre for Local Government has been
• Despite progress in some areas, ethnic polarisation in
established to help meet the leadership training needs of
the poorest areas has intensified. Newham, Hackney,
politicians and senior officers.
Tower Hamlets and Barking exemplify this process in
• Thanks to local authority-led Local Area Agreements,
the Thames Gateway and have strongly growing ethnic
management responsibilities for delivery are now clearer,
minority communities, causing major community tensions
allowing partners to work together more effectively.
and the rise of extremist groups. Birmingham, Leicester
and Bradford all have growing minority-dominated
neighbourhoods and many schools have close to 100%
intake from different non-white minorities. Too little real
work is going on to help integrate distinct communities
and virtually nothing to hold onto existing residents. Very
often policy works directly against integration through
housing over-supply in declining regions and insensitivity
in targeted lettings.
• Families in more disadvantaged urban areas feel
under immense pressure from crime, youth disorder,
environmental decay, traffic pollution, unsupervised poorly
maintained parks and a loss of local shops, play spaces
and other services. These neighbourhood problems are
intensified through concentrations of disadvantaged
households including lone parent families, households with
no earners and those with poor educational backgrounds,
The Chatham Maritime development includes three purpose built
particularly in the large Council estates that still dominate
play areas for younger children on St Mary’s Island. Families in many
many inner city neighbourhoods. Moves to demolish and
other urban neighbourhoods feel under pressure from unsupervised,
poorly maintained parks and a loss of local shops, play spaces and

replace them are increasingly problematic as the need for
other services.
affordable, accessible “social” housing in cities does not
go away. Cities like Birmingham are stuck with this
Challenges
problem.
• Cities are stark reminders of massive inequalities.
• There are fewer failing schools now than at the time of the
Competition for space in a crowded country pushes
original Urban Task Force report. But, despite the City
up prices for housing, making access for lower income
Academy programme, steps to improve urban schools
households much harder. As wealth expands, this problem
through Excellence in Cities and the Building Schools for
becomes more intense for those at the bottom of the
the Future programme, schools yet to improve place
social ladder.
families under enormous strain.
• Household fragmentation into predominantly one and two
• The Government is committed to creating sustainable
person, childless households makes it impossible to build
communities, but funding is skewed heavily towards
the type of home people aspire to for everyone. Attempting
new building and new communities while the infrastructure
to do so is a recipe for cheaply built, low quality, quick fix
funding available for these is insufficient to support truly
10

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