The credit crunch makes principles to guide good practice even more important than they were in the good times.
As my recent study, The Credit Crunch and Regeneration: Impact and Implications, for local government minister John Healey showed, the credit crunch and recession do not respect place.
Nowhere is immune.
So far, London and the south east have been best protected, but the position there may change as the economic downturn hits jobs in the financial services.
The north and midlands have been worst hit so far.
The economic one-horse towns which we worried about in the good years are even more vulnerable in the bad ones. Public sector employment may protect places from the worst of the recession, as it did in the 1990s. To him that hath shall be given.
Local authorities have much at stake.
The credit crunch has affected their prospects. The numbers of planning applications are down. They have all lost planning fee income. Business rates summonses are up, as are those for empty properties.
All are having problems getting in capital receipts. Deals are falling through late in negotiations and developers are offering less for retail sites. Receipts from right-to-buy schemes are lower. Many expect a growing gap in their three-year capital programme.
The high cost of borrowing puts pressure on revenue budgets and services. This means clear principles to guide our behaviour will be even more important. Councils should:
Recognise the threat to - and protect - marginal places, projects and people
Recognise that regeneration is a long-term challenge needing long-term commitment
Provide brave leadership and a steady hand in difficult times
Raise flexibility, especially in planning
Keep the regeneration wheels turning and maintain momentum
Commit to quality
Recognise that life will go on and do all possible now to prepare for the upturn
Retain regeneration capacity and skills
Accept the role of public resources and action in reducing the risks to regeneration
Local authorities must expect to be key players in the recovery process.
We need an approach that emphasises long-term investment, government commitment, public-private partnership working, efficient, fl exible and innovative local decision-making and a commitment to economic, social and physical regeneration.
It has worked well in the good times, and it is the best model we have for bad times.