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Building a Sustainable Future: Regeneration Discussion Paper

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Introduction

1. This paper is intended as a starting point for a wider debate and discussion about regeneration in the current climate. This is not an exhaustive review of regeneration policy but focuses instead on key challenges, opportunities and priorities going forward. In addition to publishing supporting analytical papers on our website, we will be using a number of planned events and seminars in February and March as a platform for highlighting the issues raised in the paper and to listen to the views, ideas, thoughts and suggestions of others. We are interested in hearing from local government, the wider public sector, third sector, businesses, the development industry, potential investors in regeneration and communities themselves. For more information visit our website at www.scotland.gov.uk/regenerationdiscussion.

2. Regeneration is a term that means different things to different people, ranging from large-scale development activities that promote economic growth to neighbourhood interventions that improve quality of life, and the links between them. For the purposes of this paper, we refer to the common definition that regeneration is the holistic process of reversing the economic, social and physical decline of places where market forces alone will not suffice.

3. Regeneration directly contributes to the Scottish Government's overall purpose - sustainable economic growth. Investing in Scotland's deprived communities generates growth and employment and can help to tackle the poverty and deprivation that still holds back too many of Scotland's people and stops them fulfilling their potential. It is a shared agenda across central and local government, the wider public, private and third sectors and communities themselves.

4. Improving the education, health and employment prospects of vulnerable groups not only promotes the Government's targets of social cohesion (to reduce the disparity between the regions of Scotland) and solidarity (to reduce inequalities among people), but also improves economic participation and productivity. In addition, it potentially offers higher value for money from public spending - interventions which increase the resilience of people and places, help to decrease the need for public expenditure on services and benefits in the long run.

5. Derelict sites and buildings, contaminated land, poor quality housing, an unskilled workforce, lack of employment opportunities, health inequalities and insufficient transport infrastructure are key factors contributing to the persistence of area-based deprivation. Our approach is to invest in policies which tackle these market failures and other social problems, to transform places and communities for the better. In addition, intervening in a community experiencing economic shock, for example if a major employer leaves an area, can halt that decline and maintain a local economy.

6. The 2007 Concordat between the Scottish Government and local government 1 recognises the role of councils and councillors as leaders in their local communities. It also sets out the joint commitment of the Scottish Government and local government to an outcomes-focused approach to the planning and delivery of local services, based around the National Performance Framework but with the flexibility to reflect priority outcomes around particular local needs.

7. The three joint Scottish Government / COSLA social policy frameworks ( Equally Well, Achieving Our Potential and the Early Years Framework), and Getting it right for every child ( GIRFEC), which provides the delivery framework for all services and agencies working with children and families, alongside Equal Communities in a Fairer Scotland, provide the strategic framework for tackling the long-standing inequalities that exist in Scotland.

8. The work of Community Planning Partnerships and their commitment to delivering an outcomes-focused approach as set out in Single Outcome Agreements is the key mechanism for delivering change at local level. Under this framework sit a range of policies, programmes, organisations and services which impact upon our neighbourhoods.

9. Other service providers and delivery agencies also have a key role to play. In terms of economic development, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Water, transport and other infrastructure providers along with our housing investment programme all impact upon the economic and physical regeneration of our cities, towns and villages. In addition, the second National Planning Framework ( NPF2) identifies spatial priorities for regeneration activity.

10. The delivery of public services in the future is currently the subject of consideration by the Christie Commission, which is due to report in June 2011.

11. There have been a number of major changes to the policy and funding environment for regeneration in recent years, as the preceding paragraphs show. The Concordat and outcomes-focussed approach, social policy frameworks and the reform of the enterprise networks have all changed the way that regeneration is delivered, presenting opportunities for different delivery models and different approaches. The economic crisis and recession, and, as a result, reduced public finances have also affected delivery and created challenges for the future. This paper therefore considers the impact of those changes on our regeneration policies and outlines some of those key challenges and opportunities facing regeneration practitioners in the future. It brings together current and new thinking and poses questions for wider consideration.

12. The structure of the paper is not a reflection on the relative priority or otherwise of an issue. Regeneration is a topic which covers many inter-connected issues and the linkages between issues is often the most important aspect. The paper does not try to cover all policy areas relevant to regeneration, for example, the importance of greenspace in regeneration and other design and place-making issues are not covered in detail. Given the concentration of problems associated with deprivation experienced in our towns and cities, this paper has a predominantly urban focus. However, we recognise the problems that fragile rural areas experience and we have also drawn out examples and lessons from rural areas where relevant.

  • Chapter 1 considers what we have learnt from previous regeneration initiatives, highlighting where more needs to be done to achieve the outcomes we are seeking in Scotland's most disadvantaged areas.
  • Chapter 2 considers how we fund regeneration development and infrastructure in the current economic climate.
  • Chapter 3 explores the rationale for, and options to encourage, greater community-led regeneration.
  • Chapter 4 reflects on the role that mainstream policies, programmes and services play in tackling the needs of our most deprived communities.

13. Finally, there is a need to consider the range of possible meanings of the term "communities" for regeneration purposes. Possible definitions might include recognised local neighbourhoods, villages or towns, statistical boundaries (for example Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation ( SIMD) datazones), or areas of low or declining economic activity. An alternative to a spatial approach might see groups that are formed around common interests or a desire to achieve similar aims, or might identify individuals and families with similar support needs to tackle the problems they may be facing. There may not be one answer to that question, but considering the alternatives for different circumstances may help us to determine future priorities.