I have been meaning to write about why we need to have Urban Regeneration policies, programmes and interventions for some time, but have never quite got around to it.
I was going to talk about how each place and each person is different and reacts to, and is affected by, the world in different ways. Things change over time for all of us, and for all places, but people and places are capable of reacting to these changes in different ways and to different extents, and over differing time scales.
Some people claim that the market economy is self-correcting and that left to their own devices these places and people will improve automatically by the actions of the market.
To me, it has always seemed that even if this self-correction does occur, in too many places and for too many people this market self-correction is over such a long period that it blights lives and that this blighting is morally indefensible as well as a waste of national resources for all of us.
So far, my arguments have not been backed up with any specific academic references, although are based of years of experience and research (Including my MSc dissertation), so I was pleased to obtain the following from Dr Dave Valler of Oxford Brookes University:
‘Human Geographers spent a huge amount of time and effort particularly in the 1970s and 1980s pointing out that ‘uneven development’ results from the ‘spatially and temporally uneven processes and outcomes that are characteristic of, and functional to, capitalism’ (quote from Gregory et al, in the Dictionary of Human Geography)… the notional commitment to ‘re-balancing’ simply doesn’t engage with the reality that spatial differentiation is inherent, and indeed may be instrumental for business. Gordon Marshall (in ‘A Dictionary of Sociology’) states: ‘Capitalism transforms the world as a whole but does so in different ways, developing the productive and social forces in some areas, but (as part of the same process) restricting or distorting growth in others’. In the face of such powerful forces, and the scale of the current crisis and austerity measures, the current rhetoric of ‘re-balancing’ is largely meaningless.’
I am not claiming that Dr Valler himself agrees with me, but I am grateful to receive a few references which go some way to back up my view that we must have organised Urban Regeneration interventions to help places and people who are falling so far behind that they cannot self-regenerate in a short-period of time.
Some people claim that Regeneration is dead. If this is true it needs to be resurrected, but it also needs to be done properly in future.
Also places must be designed, and systems put in place, so that places and people have a high chance of self-regenerating without constant external interventions.