Benlowndes

a perspective on PR in social housing and regeneration

Tag Archives: regeneration

Royal visit brightens a summer deluge

I went to the fantastic Heartlands regeneration project in Pool yesterday, which helped kick off the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall’s three-day visit to the county.

They were greeted by lines of local people who braved the dreadful weather, makeshift rain macs and all, to greet the couple on their visit to the former tin mine, which has been transformed into what’s been described as ‘Cornwall’s cultural playground’.

There was plenty do during their two hours at Heartlands, including a tour of the adventure playground which has been designed by local kids, meeting supporters of the project, checking out the local businesses who make up the market place on the site and unveiling a stone engraved to commemorate the visit and draw links to the area’s mining industry.

Some pictures, which show the weather in its glory, are below. Thankfully, the rain didn’t take the shine off the day for those who were there.

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Funding news underlines local comms challenges

Housing on the Forches estate, Barnstaple

This week’s announcement that the HCA is investing almost £2.5m in a vital estate regeneration project in Devon was particularly welcome.

The Forches estate in Barnstaple is not at the front of many people’s minds when they think about the lifestyle that Devon offers. But the area poses some very real issues of substandard housing, deprivation and unemployment which exist in pockets across the county.

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Plymouth’s first council estate gains a bright future

Houses in North Prospect, Plymouth

I was delighted to hear today that one of the most important estate regeneration projects in the South West had got the green light to begin large-scale improvements in earnest.

Plymouth Community Homes’ ambitious plans for North Prospect were granted planning permission by Plymouth City Council this afternoon. The news is a welcome boost for the city’s first council estate, which was initially built for former soldiers returning from the first world war but became known as the ‘Cinderella of Plymouth’ by the 1960s. Work to replace the homes is needed today because many of them have fallen into disrepair. Long-term, there are plans to replace 800 old homes with 1,200 new ones as part of the £80m, 10-year regeneration programme.

Today’s committee decision is about more than planning, as it also triggers an investment of almost £4m from the HCA to support the delivery of the first 80 affordable homes on the new estate.

It’s a story that has kept some of us at both organisations busy over the past week, but it’s great that things have hit a positive note.

Contrary to how it sometimes must feel when negative headlines are flying at you (unfairly), today’s result is well deserved good news for an impressive, young organisation which is leading a sizable and complex programme of improvements in a great city.

Hats off to them; here’s to seeing work start in North Prospect.

Locking gives the week a lift

David Warburton of the HCA and Nick Alexander of St Modwen at Locking Parklands this week

It’s been one of those weeks, which I am sure happens in every job, when you charge through every day at full pelt, tackle all tasks at hand and still find that half of the ‘to do’ list remains unfinished. The reason for this is the subject of another post (when I have a bit more brain power to think about it). 

One job that has delivered results this week is the long-awaited announcement of the start of work on site at Locking Parklands, near Weston super-Mare.

News that work on the first phase of the £400m development has begun was released on Tuesday and picked up as a front page piece (and online) in the Bristol Evening Post, the Western Daily Press, local media, business websites and on BBC Radio Bristol. Hopefully, there’s more to come tomorrow.

It has capped a busy week for the HCA’s developer partner St Modwen, who took the effort to inform local residents of the work by leafletting their homes on Monday. A website dedicated to the development is due to follow soon.

It’s great when things go well. I could do with a couple more like that next week.

Plymouth puts its partners to work

New homes at Devonport, Plymouth, where a huge regeneration effort is taking place

I was up at the crack of dawn today to travel to Plymouth, where the city council hosted a day’s session with partners to help it map out its housing strategy.

Having witnessed the scores of partners in attendance, listened to intelligent, high-profile speakers and seen some amazing regeneration taking place, I left feeling impressed and energised by the the city’s ambition.

Attendees included some of the South West’s leading housing figures and the city’s two MPs, Alison Seabeck and Oliver Colvile. They heard from Grant Shapps’ parliamentary aid Jake Berry MP, Chartered Institute of Housing’s deputy chief executive Richard Capie and my colleague Colin Molton about the challenges and opportunities facing local communities.

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Bath’s news hits the headlines

I’ve been with the BBC in Bath today, who have covered a major announcement about the Homes and Communities Agency’s investment in one of the South West’s most important regeneration projects.

My colleague David Warburton was joined by Bath and North East Somerset Council leader Francine Haeberling and director John Betty for morning interviews with broadcast crews outside the Bath Western Riverside development.

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Anyone can ‘play’ at making better cities

One Christmas game that did not make it into our house this year, but sparked my interest when I read about it, was a computerised role play which casts participants as urban designers (of all people).

In City Rain, players act as professionals who ‘restructure cities’, making them environmentally friendly, economically resilient places before they are blacklisted by global authorities. Certainly sounds different; and some bloggers have already written on the idea.

I’ll be interested to see if any colleagues are talking about it after the Christmas break.

Locking Parklands deal ‘good news’ all round

How the houses will look (c) St Modwen

Congratulations to HCA colleagues and the South West team at St Modwen for finalising the development agreement that allows work to start at Locking Parklands, near Weston-super-Mare.

The crucial deal unlocks development of the first 100 homes on the former RAF Locking site, which has been dormant for the best part of a decade.

The history of the huge site and the efforts put in by partners to regenerate it is well documented, from its closure as an airbase in 2002 to the HCA’s recent announcement of a £2.5m investment in the delivery of the first homes on the site. It’s great to hear that work is about to start.

It’s also heartening that this latest development has generated plenty of positive media coverage, with national trade titles and regional broadcasters picking up the story yesterday. Twitter was also all a flutter with the news, with corporate feeds syndicating the announcement to their followers. This is well deserved recognition for the work that’s been put in.

It certainly won’t be the last time Locking Parklands hits the headlines either.

Work goes on after World Cup woes

Maybe we can win it instead?

If the media rage is to be believed today, our hopes of rebuilding the economy (and possibly win a football tournament) are up in smoke thanks to FIFA’s decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia.

There’s no doubt that hosting the tournament would have delivered a huge economic boost to England and the South West, where Bristol and Plymouth were candidate host cities.

Regional media in both cities dutifully voiced civic leaders’ disappointment at the result, whose hopes for a share of the spoils from the world’s biggest spectator event were dashed.

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