Over the last decade or so community-oriented forms of work within local neighbourhoods have withered in England. The buzzword has become regeneration. It involves a much harder focus on economic development and the renewal of physical assets such as housing.

picture: the old jamaica road development, december 2007The Bermondsey Spa Regeneration is a good example of this trend. It entailed Southwark Council setting out a vision for the neighbourhood (with some consultation with local people and 'stakeholders') and putting parcels of land up for sale. Developers then had to submit detailed proposals, their merits and issues were assessed, and a sale made to what appeared to be the 'best' proposal. Most of the initial schemes involved between 25 and 30 per cent of social housing (close to the minimum required) and a high proportion of one and two bed flats. Schemes had to conform to the Mayor of London's requirements for high density housing in inner city planning zones. Developers had to consult with local stakeholders such as local agencies, tenants groups and community organizations.

The eventual developer for the area south of Jamaica Road was Hyde Housing (a housing association) after the preferred, developer dropped out following the slow down in the property market. This has meant a much higher proportion of properties for rent and for key workers. However, the scheme still follows the national trend in having a very high proportion of two bed flats. In 2005 Propertyfinder reported that 41 per cent of new units were two-bed flats or starter homes with only 20 per cent of buyers wanting such properties. Overall, there was a shortage of some four million three bed houses and apartments. Building work began in 2005. The initial prospectus for the scheme was issued in 2002.

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