A new approach to the built environment is needed in England’s cities.
The falling demand for space in some parts of the country has important implications for the built environment policies adopted in these areas. So far national discussions have centred on reforms needed to enable economic growth and expansion, but the important question of how to deal with the impact of industrial decline and population change in particular neighbourhoods and cities also needs to be addressed.
This third report in our Agenda for Growth series sets out a new strategy for physical regeneration in these cities and neighbourhoods that have been experiencing long-term economic and population decline.
Grand Designs is accompanied by a set of animations showing the population change process in England overall and London:
Our analysis suggests that a new approach to the built environment should be based on five key principles:
1. Built environments need to adapt to changing economic circumstances and levels of population. Urban areas facing industrial change and population decline need strategies that deal directly with the consequences this has for the built environment.
2. Strategies should focus on delivering the best outcomes for people. Increasing the supply of business space and housing in areas where there is limited demand for it is not necessarily the best way of improving outcomes for local people.
3. Decision makers should respond to the needs of different neighbourhoods. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the built environment would ignore varying patterns of demand for space across a city-region.
4. Community engagement and leadership is crucial when managing the impact of decline on built environments. Evidence from both England and overseas suggests that top down solutions are not welcomed by local communities.
5. Places need to keep reviewing their economic circumstances. No city-region or neighbourhood is on a fixed path towards either growth or decline. Facing industrial change and population decline now does not mean this will always be the case. Built environment strategies need to adapt to changing circumstances and levels of demand at different points in time.