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Solicitors Lawrence Graham and the British Urban Regeneration Association have jointly published a 34-page brochure...
Solicitors Lawrence Graham and the British Urban Regeneration Association have jointly published a 34-page brochure titled Regeneration: some legal and practical issues.

Formed in 1990, BURA is the leading independent organisation concerned with the renewal of towns, cities and regions. It brings together a broad cross-section of members representing the public, private and voluntary sectors, both nationally and internationally.

It identifies and promotes best practice, highlights opportunities for new projects and acts as a catalyst for the creation of successful partnerships. It advocates an integrated approach to improving the quality of life in urban areas, taking into account the social, economic and environmental issues involved. BURA is a non-profit making organisation, which is independent of all political parties and special interest groups.

The main thrust of the report is that any regeneration project which deals only with the improvement and redevelopment of property, and does not address other economic, social and human issues, is bound to fail. There is little point in improving the housing stock of an area, if no-one can afford to occupy it.

Chapter 2 provides an overview of the economic, social and political context. Chapter 3 sets out in chronological order the various attempts which central government has made to stimulate regeneration, from the urban programme introduced by the Local Government Grants (Social Need) Act 1969 as supplemented by the Inner Urban Areas Act 1978, to the establishment of urban development corporations set up during the 1980s, and the single regeneration budget. From April 1994 the SRB has amalgamated 20 existing but separate programmes and their associated budgets into one pot of money.

It then summarises the priorities of the new government which are:

-- The fourth round of SRB, to run from April 1998 to March 2000, must fit in with the government's commitment to tackle the multiple causes of social and economic decline, take on board existing strategies for promoting economic development and fit in with regional policies

-- Housing minister Hilary Armstrong launched the third round of the Estates Renewal Challenge Fund on 3 July 1997. It aims to transform the remaining big run-down estates by speeding up their transfer to the private sector, where they can benefit from private finance

-- The Local Government (Supplementary Credit Approvals) Bill introduced on 22 May 1997, will enable local authorities to reutilise more of their receipts from asset sales towards housing regeneration.

The brochure emphasises the importance of obtaining strategic legal advice at the outset of the project, which can shorten timescales and enable much of the legal work to be carried out in parallel.

It recommends that compulsory purchase should also be started sooner rather than later, as its use will facilitate regeneration by stimulating confidence, encouraging private sector investment, and ensuring that comprehensive regeneration will be achieved.

Overall control of the land by the local authority will provide certainty to potential funders and developers, by assuring them that the land will be available. Section 226 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is the power most commonly used to compulsorily purchase land for economic regeneration. Appendix 2 of the brochure lists 15 other statutory powers which might also be used in different situations.

For further information contact

Carl Hopkins at Lawrence Graham, tel: 0171 379 0000 .

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