The UK government’s ambitions for levelling-up, improving social cohesion and accelerating the path to net zero could be shifted up a gear if alternative financing capability is made available to support local regeneration, according to construction industry leaders.
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has developed the Greener Regeneration Scheme, showing how the government could empower local authorities, and their development partners, to take the lead in the post-Covid revitalisation of towns and cities.
The new research follows hot on the heels of a call by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering for local authorities to be empowered to build resilient post-Covid communities, and demonstrates how a new approach could accelerate construction jobs for the next three years, stimulate a local-led economic recovery plan, whilst delivering long-term benefits for communities.
The proposal has been developed with the support of local authorities, LEPs and private sector developers, seeking to create the optimum environment for aligning public and private sector interests.
To illustrate the tangible outcomes a shift in approach would deliver, the CLC has described the opportunity with tangible case studies. In Stevenage, for example, the fund would deliver 1,860 homes three years earlier than currently planned, a new town centre four years earlier, and 1,250 additional homes delivered six years earlier.
Similarly, the shift in approach would support and enhance local regeneration programmes by bringing projects to market more rapidly, harnessing some of the longer term social outcomes needed in some of the most deprived areas.
Andy Mitchell, CLC co-chair, said: “Covid-19 has had incalculable effects on all our lives and on the whole UK economy. It is, however, a chance for a gear-shift in how we deliver construction in the UK, and the opportunity not only to build back better, but to build back greener.
“With the right support, local authorities and their development partners can deliver targeted investment that will not only create jobs, but will deliver for communities and businesses in all parts of the UK. We are calling on the UK government to take steps to empower local authorities to lead the UK’s economic recovery and deliver the sustainable future we will need to succeed in the post-pandemic world.”
Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), spearheaded the research on behalf of the CLC.
She said: “We know there is a long-term demand for regeneration activity across the UK, not only to deliver ambitious housing targets, but to support levelling-up and growth at a local level. This fund will ensure that regeneration schemes also deliver on government’s long-term ambitions on net zero and in doing so will open up projects to interest from private and institutional investors who are also seeking clear social and environmental returns.
“Covid-19 has brought into sharp relief the need for more resilience in our communities. The shift in commuter patterns and behaviours, the importance of open spaces and the delivery of local services have all been turned on their head recently. Successful projects will need to factor in these changes and overcome historic challenges to deliver faster, better and greener regeneration. This fund and the capability aligned to it will help local authorities and their private sector development partners do just that.”