Does Soho need Regenerating?

I was watching a TV programme last night about Soho, and how some people are concerned about its character being changed by proposals to re-develop parts of it.

In this programme we heard a Development Manager from Derwent London saying that Soho needs Regenerating. Now I actually have a lot of time for Derwent, and generally like the things they do; but I am sorry but Regeneration is not the same as Development and I think that developers ought to have the courage of their convictions and describe redevelopment projects as development.

Soho does not need Regenerating – there are not lots of premises or buildings which are empty (due to lack of demand), nor is there a lack of demand from people and businesses wanting to locate there, and neither is there a lack of people visiting and using the area. So, in what way does it need Regenerating?

Now, it may be that alternative or more intensive uses, or different types of buildings, will bring in higher rents and capital values, but this is Re-development, it is not Regeneration, and calling it the latter confuses the two things when they are really two quite different things. We must stop using the term Regeneration when we are really doing Re-development. When there is a case for Re-development we need to have the courage to make the case for it to happen and not hide behind the use of the word Regeneration.

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