Urban Regeneration and Out of Town Development

Philip spoke to the Retail Consortium about urban regeneration, his speech notes are available here.

Urban regeneration as with out of town development must be approached from a variety of angles. As with any development project the full impact must be considered -
o For example when looking at urban regeneration how does it impact the community, what is its affect on anti-social behaviour (which affects us all retailers and residents alike), what are both the community's and the business benefits

On the whole urban regeneration is has a positive impact on a community as it brings more business to the town centre; it creates a sense of community and encourages growth.

However when approaching a regeneration project there are a few things I believe need to be done to address some of the above points, in particular tackling anti-social behaviour

1 - there needs to be a combined effort from both the residential and the retail sector to invest in town centres - think about what a town centre looks like after hours, it is dark, businesses are closed and the pub is open, this can lead to an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour, all you need to do is watch one of those police video programmes to see the number of shop windows that are broken by those out on the lash, but if there is an increase in residential investment with the retail sector and a community is created then there is the opportunity for residents to take 'ownership' of the town centre, this can only benefit businesses

2 - Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, implemented the 'Broken Windows' theory which is also known as zero tolerance. It says that there must be enforcement of all levels of crime and anti social behaviour. If minor crimes such as begging, drunkenness, graffiti, litter etc are allowed to flourish then it paves the way for more serious crime to take root.

There is general agreement among academicians of criminal jurisprudence that crime in New York did drop. Murder decreased by 72% and total violent crimes by 51%.

Retail properties account for 75% of all the investment property in regeneration areas

Regeneration area property is now more clearly out-performing with 16 percent growth over 2006 compared to 15.2% seen for all UK retail

In the most recent IPD (Investment Property Index) Regeneration Index (Summer 2007) it noted:

The retail sector has been a driving force behind regeneration area performance - with strong returns reported for shopping centres and retail warehouses compared to their All UK benchmark over the last three years.

The IPD goes on to say that if regeneration is successful, it will substantially raise local population incomes and improve the quality of retail catchment areas

Overall consumer demand is expected to slow as higher interest rates really start to weigh on consumers finances (Alistair Lockhart, Verdict Research's senior retail analyst)

It has also been pointed out in a recent independent report that there is growing pressure on UK town centre retailing growth as consumer demand slows and competition from online and out of town retailers intensifies
o Which is why it is important to see the return of services in local post offices and local shops in town centres as they can be important to the vitality of a town.

The predicted decline in retail activity will see the shaking out of weaker players and looks set to continue until 2009 (Verdict Research Report), However it will see the department stores in particular driving town centre retail growth.

Out-of-Town Centres have their place, but in moderation - there needs to be a balance between urban regeneration, which would like to see the return of small specialty and local shops and the mega out-of-town developments and supermarkets

The New Economic Foundation think-tank predicted that on current trends across the UK the number of local outlets will have dropped by nearly a third over two decades by 2010

Parking at out of town shops
The RAC Foundation Executive Director Edmund King says that 'Over zealous traffic wardens and ill thought out parking policies are putting too many retailers at risk'

60% of all shopping trips involves a car, when looking at urban regeneration this must be taken into consideration, heavily pedestrian-ised areas alienate motorists, especially if they are expected to pay upwards of £7 an hour in some city centres

Furthermore too many pedestrian-ised areas can encourage anti-social behaviour as they are often empty and dark places at night

The link between traffic and retail is one that must be recognised in regeneration plans

Heavy cost for parking literally drives motorists to out of town centres where