Urban regeneration: a complex and ever-evolving endeavour

Although urban regeneration is receiving renewed focus at the moment, it is not a new concept. Since World War II, underutilised and neglected urban areas have been transformed into new places for people to live and work all over the world. These projects have been subject to critique over the years and many attempts at regeneration have fallen short of the mark.

As we continue to use urban regeneration as a city building tool we must look to these past examples, both positive and negative, for lessons and guidance.

What is successful urban regeneration?

Elton Consulting’s Dr Rachel Trigg maintains the key to successful urban regeneration is governance, public and private partnerships and engagement – not just with the community, but also with stakeholders.

“It must tick multiple boxes,” she said. “Financial feasibility is of course a major and necessary factor, but these contemporary projects are also expected to deliver social, environmental, connectivity and cultural outcomes.”

Urban regeneration is a space in which Elton Consulting has been working for some time now. Having contributed (and continuing to contribute) communications and engagement and social planning services to projects such as Frasers Central Park, Parramatta North Urban Renewal, Green Square, and most recently a best practice report for Perth’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA), urban regeneration is a subject area that Elton Consulting is and has been very involved in.

For our most recent work with the MRA we researched national and international projects and trends in areas such as social planning, urban infrastructure provision, community engagement and place making as well as a review of the academic and professional literature.

30 best practice urban regeneration case studies were examined, 18 of which were explored in-depth for a final report. This list included well-known Australian based projects, as well as a number of cutting edge international examples:

  • Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea in London
  • West Kowloon in Hong Kong
  • Arabianranta in Helsinki
  • Fjord City in Oslo
  • Toronto Waterfront
  • Auckland Waterfront
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York
  • Kings Cross in London.

These projects were chosen for their best practice approaches to urban renewal as well as their level of practical and local applicability within the Perth context.

Dr Trigg told us that best practice is not understood in this context to equate to perfect practice – “Urban renewal is a complex and ever evolving endeavour,” she said. “In all of the case studies considered in the report, there were opportunities for improvement or learning.”

The research allowed the MRA to draw out lessons, identify best practice approaches and refine and expand their objectives for redevelopment in Perth, helping them move forward with their work in an efficient and informed manner.