Cities are faced with complex challenges in urban governance, integrating the many and varied voices of the city into decision-making frameworks. This is particularly the case in the arena of urban regeneration, where (at times) opposing interests are involved in governance processes at the level of neighbourhood regeneration. The aim of this chapter is to explore the key players that are involved in the process of regeneration, from national governments through to local public sector bodies, private sector involvement, and the engagement of community groups and civil society, and to analyse how the balance of interests between these players has changed over time with the evolution of policy towards urban regeneration since the 1980s.
Urban regeneration is an umbrella term that refers to ‘those policies and strategies that have been designed to deal with urban decline, decay and social and economic transformation’ (Imrie et al. 2009: 4). Given its broad remit, the term ‘urban regeneration’ implies an integrated perspective on the problems and potentials of cities, and the areas peripheral to them. However, this integrated perspective also necessarily brings many voices to the table, which can itself present challenges in finding a consensus for a way forward. It is also worth noting that the roles of the different stakeholders in urban regeneration (public, private and civil society) vary markedly in different contexts. Each socio-political and institutional system at the national level is embedded with different cultural and ideological norms that influence the role of actors in the regeneration process, and thus the dynamics of decision-making processes can vary considerably between different national contexts. This chapter is based on the experience of urban regeneration in the UK, which it could be argued, has led the way internationally in relation to public-private partnerships and decision-making in a regeneration context. Other national contexts will differ depending on the particular circumstances, but most follow the pattern followed by the UK in relation to the shifts in stakeholder involvement that have taken place since the 1980s.
The chapter is divided into three main parts. First, the key theoretical debates related to urban governance more generally, and more specifically regeneration governance are outlined. Second, the history of urban regeneration in the post-war period is examined to illustrate how the evolution of approaches to regeneration has impacted on the composition of actors involved in decision-making, from public, to private, to greater community involvement. Third, the post-2008 context and the implications for regeneration decisionmaking and potential outcomes are explored. The chapter concludes with an overview of the implications of decision-making structures for the future of urban regeneration.
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