English Partnerships spearheads regeneration
English Partnerships, the national regeneration agency, has reported a year of significant progress with a 46 % increase in its programme receipts and an 18% increase in its investment development programme over the year.
The agency plays a key role in regeneration including the remediation of contaminated land, the theme of this month’s special LAWE feature
Reporting on the year, English Partnerships’ Chairman, Margaret Ford, said: “This year has seen an acceleration in the pace and scale of regeneration and housing growth across England. We are pleased with the significant progress our programmes have made to that accelerated delivery.
“Our results speak for themselves: all targets met or exceeded across our £483 million investment in the programme we delivered to meet the Government’s objectives, particularly the Sustainable Communities Plan.”
Pointing to the year ahead, Mrs Ford emphasised the need to maintain the momentum of delivery while embracing innovation and smarter ways of workings across the regeneration industry.
The Sustainable Communities Plan confirmed and extended English Partnerships’ role as expert advisor to the Government on brownfield and in support of other roles.
She said, “The Sustainable Communities Plan requires significant investment in new infrastructure and the provision for these growing communities’ needs to be reflected
in the priorities of the Utilities and across Government.
“The current review of Section 106 provides an opportunity for English Partnerships to structure new approaches to the provision of infrastructure that will mobilise private sector willingness to contribute towards high quality transport links and services and will tap the land values such infrastructure creates.”
Mrs Ford added, “Our success in accelerating the pace and scale of regeneration and housing growth has however created a new set of issues that we need to address to ensure that the quality of our developments keeps pace with the rapid increase in quantity that we have begun to establish.
“These issues relate to the increasing demand for new skills, new infrastructure and new investment.”
Focus on delivery
Chief Executive, David Higgins, said that in the forthcoming year the agency would concentrate on delivery of its projects coupled with a commitment to rising design and construction standards.
He said, “Acceleration of our delivery will be a key theme for us going forward. This is clearly demonstrated with our announcement we are now seeking developers for the first former hospital site since taking over the portfolio of 67 redundant NHS properties three months ago.
“We are planning more than 1,000 new homes for the former Park Prewett hospital site in Basingstoke.
“Another good example of our focus on effective delivery, was the appointment of developers following a two stage competition for the former RAF staff college in Bracknell in under 12 months.
“We have had a tremendous year in terms of what we have delivered, but we are now gearing up to achieve much more significant results, increasing the number and mix of new homes, reclaiming brownfield land and bringing forward the re-use of surplus public sector land.”
As part of its National Brownfield Strategy, English Partnerships launched a pilot scheme in February 2005 aimed at addressing the future use of long-term derelict land in 14 local authority areas.
The pilot areas provide a mix of urban and rural sites to test the different models of private investment and community involvement. The objective of the pilot is
to open up these sites for commercial or recreational use. Findings will be fed into
the National Brownfield Strategy which will be published in Spring 2006.
The Report says that the National Land Use Database (NLUD), operated in conjunction with the ODPM, has proved to be a “key tool” in identifying and classifying brownfield land. This year returns detailing more than 64,000 ha of previously developed land were received from 94% of local authorities, making it the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken of brownfield land in England. This has had a significant impact on the accuracy and effectiveness of the NLUD data and its position to inform English Partnerships’ projects, including the National Brownfield Strategy.
English Partnerships’ single biggest contribution to the regeneration of brownfield land remains the National Coalfields Programme, which has been extended by an extra five years to enable the full economic and social benefits of the initial sites to be realised and to deliver 15 additional sites.
Since its inception in 1996, the Programme has resulted in 1,620 ha of land being brought into productive use, of which 1,495 ha is reclaimed land.
English Partnerships spearheads regeneration