By David Cowans, Group Chief Executive at Places for People

The general election saw a massive electoral change.

Many of these were towns facing high levels of deprivation, which changed their political allegiance for the first time in decades.

As these communities signal a huge desire for change, there is an urgent need to address the economic challenges faced by deprived areas to deliver regeneration initiatives.

We know from experience that this isn’t an easy task. Making towns and cities into better places to live can take significant time. That’s why we need to think differently and find new ways to deliver large-scale regeneration in areas that feel left behind more quickly and effectively.

One idea that could make a significant difference is new funding models. Attracting institutional investment has long been a major hurdle for regeneration schemes, but there are new funds and partnerships now available which are beginning to change that trend.

Successful places

For example, Places for People’s fund management business, PfP Capital, is creating a portfolio of residential funds that are helping to create successful places by raising equity and investing in regeneration and rental property. Building on Places for People’s expertise in placemaking, property management and measurable social value, PfP Capital adds its own Financial Conduct Authority-regulated fund management expertise to offer investors stable returns and ongoing value growth.

As well as managing a private sector rented fund, and a fund in partnership with the Scottish government, which is investing in new mid-market rental homes, both funded by institutional investment, PfP Capital is the investment manager of the Urban Transformation Partnership.

This partnership is providing a platform for local authorities and their pension funds to invest in local placemaking, which not only includes housing but the facilities needed to make the area thrive.

Its focus is on targeting areas that offer the potential to create sustainable communities, including new businesses and employment opportunities.

Typically, this involves post-industrial land at the edge of the UK’s major urban centres. This type of land has often been overlooked, but with the right approach it can be transformed into mixed-use developments that deliver large-scale regeneration.

Construction is usually phased to enable impact and investor returns to grow exponentially.

Community engagement

Community engagement is a fundamental part of the process. By working closely with local people and other stakeholders to ensure we meet their needs and aspirations, we can create more sustainable places that also generate significant social value. This can be achieved by focusing on well-designed neighbourhoods that minimise environmental impact and promote community health, happiness and well-being.

PfP Capital’s Urban Transformation Partnership is accelerating development on a number of regeneration programmes in Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham and Bristol, in partnership with local authorities and Homes England.

It is also in the process of securing further development opportunities across the UK with the intention of becoming the UK’s leading sustainable development platform.

Positive social outcomes

Our aim is to continue to develop relationships with more local authorities so that we can help fund regeneration schemes in towns and cities across the UK. In some areas, this could include investments that help rejuvenate struggling high streets by transforming existing facilities into more useable spaces.

Delivering regeneration in a timescale we notice and makes a tangible difference to local communities requires significant resources. But sometimes we need to look closer to home and the opportunities that may have been overlooked.

By joining forces with likeminded partners, that can bring many of the required skills and resources to the table, there is huge potential for local government and its pension funds to transform sites into places that work for everyone and deliver positive social outcomes.

We need to deliver the platforms to make best use of those funds to make a difference.

This blog was first featured in Inside Housing on 5 February 2020.

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