REGENERATION is an interesting term because it means many different things to many different people.
So when the Parliamentary All Party Urban Development Group publishes a report entitled ‘Next Steps – a regeneration guide for the next government’ it is something for all of us involved in any aspect of the property game to get excited about.
So I was delighted to be invited by Northern Way to attend a meeting with the All Party Group’s senior officers on the day that report was launched recently.
The12 of us around the table in the House of Commons were to discuss the regeneration challenges faced by the North of England.
Those present included the All Party Group chair Clive Betts MP, honorary chair the Rt Hon Nick Raynsford MP, vice-chair Lord Richard Best and Bob Neill MP, who was standing in for vice-chair Robert Syms MP.
From our side there was Andrew Lewis and Beverley Linsley from the Northern Way, the economic development partnership, Terry Hodgkinson, chair of Yorkshire Forward and David Cramond, director of capital development at One North East.
We also had with us Professor Michael Parkinson, an expert on urban affairs at Liverpool John Moores University and author of an influential study on the state of regeneration in the North.
Michael described the steps under way to keep regeneration going in the North and the need to redouble efforts and commitment in the tough times ahead.
On the basis that ‘shy bairns get nowt’ I put my two pennyworth in by suggesting that it was time for those in the corridors of Westminster and Whitehall to fully recognise the potential of the Northern regions to grow and make a stronger contribution to national economic recovery.
By having a more balanced public spending sector focus on housing, for instance, from the South East to the regions, the Government could encourage more private sector investment in the region leading to more jobs and less dependency on handouts.
The All Party Urban Development Group is an independent forum for MPs and peers from all political parties to come together and raise awareness of matters concerning urban renewal and sustainable development. Supported by Centre for Cities and the British Property Federation, it holds regular inquiry sessions in order to provide a holistic package of policy proposals that will drive forward physical and economic regeneration.
They were clearly listening but having been involved with regeneration projects in the North East for the past 30 years, I am only too aware of how far our region is from where the country’s policies are decided and funding is allocated. The Next Steps report has a number of very good points – it urges the introduction of Tax Increment Finance and limiting planning reform – but it also has some questionable recommendations.
The point is that if we don’t challenge them then no one will do anything about it. I urge all readers to get a copy of the report – available on the website www.allparty- urbandevelopment.org.uk – and let the MPs know what you think. If we don’t, then as Mark Twain said ‘if you always do what you always did then you’ll always get what you always got’.
Kevan Carrick is a partner at JK Property Consultants and policy spokesman for RICS North East