Urban Development Corporations and Regneration

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Urban Development Corporations

UDC's - focus on the regeneration of the inner city -> property led regeneration

They were given planning approval powers over and above those of the local authority. They were encouraged to spend public money on purchase of land, building infrastructure and marketing to attract private investment. The intention is that this investment would be 4/5 times greater than public money intially invested.

The boards are made up of people from the local business community. They have power to acquire, reclaim and service land prior to private - sector involvement and to provide financial incentives to private investors. Two were set upin 1981 (London Docklands and Merseyside) followed by another 11. By 1993, UDCs accounted for 40% of urban regeneration policy expenditure. They have:

  • attracted £12billion of private sector involvement
  • used £4billion of public money
  • built/refurbished 35,000 housing units
  • created 190,000 jobs
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  • newly created employment is inadequate
  • they are too dependent on property speculation and lost huge sums of money through compulsory purchase of land that then fell in value
  • more power than local authority meant that democratic accountability was removed - people were not involved
  • In LDDC, people felt physically/socially excluded by prestiguous housing and high-tech office development
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City Challenge Partnership

To gain funding, a local authority had to come up with a project and form a partnership in its local inner-city area with the private sector and local communities. The partnership then submits a 5 year plan to central government in competition with other inner-city areas. The best schemes combine social, economic and environmental aims. By 1993, 30 had been established - 20% of expenditure on inner-city regeneration. 

How They Work:- designed to address the weakness of other schemes

  • Partners are better coordinated and involved - all strands of investment had to work together 
  • Gave equal importance to buildings, people and values
  • Co-operation between authorities, private/public groups (some of which were voluntary) was prioritised.

All of the city challenge areas suffered from high long-term and youth employment, low skills base, poor education attainment, environmental deterioration, increasing derelict land and growing commercial property vacancy. Public sector housing was deteriorating in almost all areas due to a combination of poor initial design and inadequate maintenance. The population of these areas was usually has a higher incidence of healthcare problem, personal crime, fear of crime, proportion of single-parent families and households dependent of social security than the national average. 

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Was it Successful?

  • Private sector found the competitive principle attractive - criticised by others who said large sums of money should be awarded based on need not competitive advantage
  • Neighbouring authorities competed instead of working together: 40,000 homes improved, 3000 new businesses established, 53,000 jobs created, 2000ha of land reclaimed
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