Hello PPMA member and friends

This week Helen Fisher, Programme Director of Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership looks at the challenges ahead as London’s regeneration continues to put pressure on local authorities to deliver.

Over the past several years, regeneration in London has been focused on stimulating growth, creating jobs and new homes and delivering the physical infrastructure needed to enable this growth to take place.  Focus is therefore on areas that have the potential to accommodate that growth rather than areas where there are concentrations of poverty.

“Nine Elms on the South Bank, an opportunity area of 227 hectares in central London stretching across the north of Wandsworth and covering part of Vauxhall in Lambeth, is the epitome of this approach.  The scheme will deliver 20,000 new homes and 25,000 new jobs from 6.5 M sq ft of commercial space over a period of 20 years, making a big contribution to tackling London’s population growth.  An informal partnership, the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership, led by the Leaders of Wandsworth and Lambeth, together with landowners, developers, the GLA and Transport for London, works to foster a shared vision for change and deliver joint endeavour across all sectors.

The Northern line extension to Nine Elms and to Battersea Power Station – an investment of £1 billion in very necessary transport, has enabled the scale of  transformation and is made possible by the joint working and leadership of the GLA, TFL, Wandsworth Council, Lambeth and Battersea Power Station, supported by a Treasury backed guarantee.

The Queen’s Speech did not signal any significant change in the approach to delivery of regeneration for the public sector.  Although some sections of the property industry remain critical of planning , with Greg Clarke, the man who guided the National Planning Policy Framework through Parliament now Secretary of State for Communities, it’s unlikely that there will be major changes in the short term.   The Government’s support for development, facilitating infrastructure and the Northern Power House appears to be evident in the City and Local Government Devolution Bill providing increased devolution of powers to the big cities and to the introduction of elected metropolitan mayors with powers over housing, transport and planning and policy and the HS2 BillThe Housing Bill arguably focuses more on supporting home ownership, extending Right to Buy to 1.3 M Housing Association tenants and increases in the number of starter homes, rather than stimulating major increases in housing supply.

So, what does this mean for Local Authorities and their regeneration team? We are in a period of intense change for Local Authorities.  Reductions in size, mergers, changes in services and different delivery mechanisms are all being explored.  Discretionary services such as regeneration are being looked at closely.  Local Authorities have always worked in partnership to deliver regeneration  and they will need to continue to collaborate and develop partnerships with the private sector.  They will also need to become ever more creative about use of resources and property assets.  Exploration and identification of alternative means for the funding and delivery of infrastructure and regeneration – and for the people we need to deliver, will continue including Planning Performance Agreements, CIL and scheme topslices, TiFs, borrowing powers, raising capital or revenue through the use of assets, pension funds and mechanisms to harness property value uplift from investment in infrastructure.  Our staff will need to be able to flow in and out of the public and private sector, crossing boundaries between Councils, Companies, charities and mutuals.  Skill sets will be needed to build joint agendas, shared values and objectives with our local communities and private sector partners.  Emotional intelligence, negotiation and collaboration are as important as hard technical skills.  These will all be needed to make the changes we want to see in our communities and neighbourhoods and to ensure that local people benefit from these changes.

In summary, while the legislative environment remains consistent for the time being, the challenges for individuals operating in the regeneration sector remain ever more demanding with a complex matrix of skills required to deliver success.”

Helen Fisher is Programme Director of Nine Elms  Vauxhall Partnership