Regeneration Programmes: A Catalyst for Wider Development

Adam Jones
As one of the most deprived Wards in the country, North Prospect in Plymouth had suffered from years of neglect and urban decay. However, the commencement of an ambitious regeneration programme has kick-started the renewal of the area with dramatic results.

I was delighted that North Prospect won the Best Regeneration Project Award at the RICS Awards 2013 for South West and Wales. Judges assessed the need for regeneration and the way the scheme improved the built environment and how it contributed to the viability of the area. They also looked at the degree of community involvement and whether the work acted as a catalyst for further improvements. They were also impressed by schemes that did not compromise on quality, functionality and design.

North Prospect ticked all those boxes and more. This was not just a building programme for Plymouth Community Homes (PCH), but a means of addressing the multiple indicators of deprivation associated with the estate in recent years. The scheme has become a force for sustainable transformation, aiming to change the perception and reality of the estate, and improve life outcomes for its resident stakeholders – including health and employment prospects.

This was not just a building programme for Plymouth Community Homes (PCH), but a means of addressing the multiple indicators of deprivation associated with the estate in recent years.

Overcoming residents' understandable resistance to change, the scheme has succeeded in getting the community on board. Employment of residents on the construction works has been successful, with local apprentices joining the contractor workforce.

The entire site potential is for up to 1,300 new homes across a ten year programme along with the refurbishment of 300 homes and additional community facilities. Phase one consisted of 250 homes, with commercial and community facilities.

The entire site potential is for up to 1,300 new homes across a ten year programme along with the refurbishment of 300 homes and additional community facilities.

As pre and post-contract employer's agent, managing the funding, procurement, cost management and phasing of the project proved to be particularly complex for the Faithful+Gould team appointed in 2009. We worked with PCH to identify a development partner, with Barratt Developments eventually selected, and then co-ordinated the masterplan and detailed proposals for the first phases, securing planning consent and agreeing the commercial contract terms. We are now carrying out the post- contract employer’s agent role and the project is on programme and budget.

Funding streams were varied and innovative and the scheme was one of the first major projects to make use of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) Delivery Partner Panel framework which aims to bring publicly owned land forward for residential development.

The tenure consists of a mixture of affordable, private and government assisted Help to Buy homes. This will achieve greater sustainability and viability, encouraging a range of community investment (financial and non-financial) in the neighbourhood.

Further challenges included the site’s sloping topography and contamination, the relocation of residents during demolition and construction, the integration of community infrastructure, and the relocation of 1,100 protected slow-worms to nearby woods.

Further challenges included the site’s sloping topography and contamination, the relocation of residents during demolition and construction, the integration of community infrastructure, and the relocation of 1,100 protected slow-worms to nearby woods. Design challenges included the incorporation of lifetime homes standards, to maximise the utility, independence and quality of life to meet the existing and changing needs of diverse households.  

Sharing good practice and lessons learned is hugely important in this austere climate where lack of resources and the impact of public sector cuts threaten to further widen economic and social disparities. I was therefore, pleased to be invited to present a case study of the North Prospect scheme at the recent RICS South West Property Conference and RICS National Planning and Development Conference in London to illustrate the schemes approach.

The North Prospect scheme is now going forward to the RICS National Awards 2013, which will be judged in London in October. Our team are hopeful that the project will achieve this further recognition. It's a great testament to the abilities of the whole team and Faithful+Gould's sustainable regeneration expertise that projects such as this can achieve success in the current economic climate.