This basic question was raised at a recent national conference. SURF contacted some key players in the field to find out what they mean when they think of ‘Regeneration’ :
Alisdair McIntosh: Head of Regeneration, Fuel Poverty and Supporting People division at the Scottish Executive
“Regeneration has economic, social and physical aspects. Put another way it is about business, people and place: and about taking an approach which seeks to balance these. Overall, however, the aim of our approach is to secure an improved quality of life for local people.”
David Coulter: Head of Social Inclusion at Scottish Enterprise
“Economic regeneration, where the focus is on releasing latent economic opportunity
Community regeneration, where the focus is on improving the living conditions of the most deprived neighbourhoods
Environmental regeneration, where the focus is on land renewal through the reclamation of derelict land and environmental improvement.
The above behave like overlapping circles where different projects will have blends of each.”
Geoff Huggins: Head of the Scottish Executive Mental health section
“Its about recognisable change, not maintenance and support.”
Lynne Main: Community Activist
“Regeneration, for me, is just the developing and sustaining of a level playing field where none existed before; giving people living in poorer or less advantaged areas an equal kick at the ball.”
Glenys Watt: Blake Stevenson Consultants
“A holistic approach to improve the lives of people living in areas suffering from deprivation: by holistic we mean that it must include social, economic, physical and environmental aspects.”
Tanveer Parnez: BEMIS (Black Ethnic Minority Infrastructure in Scotland)
“It is the key to fighting and overcoming the disadvantages that are experienced or suffered by disadvantaged communities in Scotland.”
Stewart Murdoch: Head of Communities and Culture, Dundee City Council
“The challenge of regeneration is to work with those who are excluded from the mainstream, to come up with visions of the future which people feel a part of and which hold out the prospect of a more just economic, more engaging social and more inclusive political future for communities.”
Malcolm Fraser: Architecture and Design Scotland
“There’s real Regeneration, where the gains are permanent and selfsustaining, based on empowering a community and a place; and there’s the Marketing Model, based on spin, rebranding and white elephants.”
Prof Greg Lloyd: The Geddes Institute, Dundee University
“Regeneration is a layered and contested term. It can only be considered in the context of degeneration and the power relations involved in the particular circumstances that that inform the character of regeneration. As a consequence there is no one universal panacea for degeneration, nor one model for regeneration.”
So while there is some understandable diversity reflecting the different perspectives, there is also a workable consensus that we are talking about a holistic process (As Greg Lloyd says, not always the same one in all cases) but one ultimately focused on positive outcomes for people and the disadvantaged communities they live in.
But, to paraphrase Britain’s favourite philosopher:
Defining regeneration is one thing, the point is to deliver it.
Do we have the right policies, structures and delivery mechanisms in Scotland to do so? This will be the subject of a SURF Conference in Dundee in March 2006. Details, as they are confirmed, will be posted on the SURF web site.