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Regeneration policies "must change"

Calls have been made for the government to change its policies on regenerating former industrial cities across England following a report that claims the blueprints are not working.

According to Centre for Cities, a research group that analyses the policies, around £5bn has been spent over the past 10 years on building houses, offices, apartment blocks and science parks.

It said all this was done based on the assumption that the regeneration schemes would spark economic growth.

But the group said the lives of residents in the cities had not been turned around as a result of the schemes, and there were fewer jobs available than had been anticipated.

Vacant housing has often remained and office space is difficult to let, said Centre for Cities, which urged the government and city leaders to adopt an “ambitious new approach”, based on initiatives in Germany and the United States.

Communities should be given the power to decide on plans, parks rather than science parks should be built and small terraces should be turned into larger homes rather than knocking them down and building one-bedroom flats, said the report.

Chief executive of the Centre for Cities Alexandra Jones said: “The coalition is encouraging all urban areas to go for growth through incentives like the New Homes Bonus, but the neighbourhoods grappling with industrial decline and the impacts of recession and cuts need to stabilise first.

“In the past, city leaders and national government have championed the replacement of out of use steel works and empty terraces with office and apartment blocks.

“These projects did not improve opportunities for local residents in the way they had hoped, and public and developer finance is now limited.

“Shifting plans from building a science park to creating a public park in these places is not about giving up on growth, it’s about improving the area for local residents, who should be at the heart of the decision-making process.

“This is an approach that has worked for US and German cities. Ambition and innovation from city leadership are the key ingredients.”

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