Regeneration and Renewal

First for regeneration

City Growth goals remain unclear

Friday, 28 October 2005

BACKGROUND Project: City Growth Strategies Period of evaluation: 2003-2004 Evaluating organisation: GHK Consulting Evaluation commissioned by: The Small Business Service

Aims and outline of project: City Growth Strategies (CGS) are meant to put the business agenda at the centre of urban regeneration, encouraging the private sector to lead in the development of local economic strategies and focusing on the competitive economic advantages - rather than the social disadvantages - of inner-city areas. They are designed to prioritise and organise existing programmes at a local level. The first of the Government's CGS pilots began in 2002.

Scope of evaluation report: To evaluate the impact of the CGS approach by reviewing the quality of the strategies developed and assessing initial indications of success.

KEY LESSONS

Adam Fineberg writes: Tensions over the exact goals of City Growth Strategies are still to be resolved, according to this evaluation report. The report also highlights the difficulties faced by both the private and public sectors in coming to terms with the different and unfamiliar priorities that they must take on board if the strategies are to be successful.

The researchers at GHK Consulting state that it is still too early in the CGS programme to answer the question of how it works. Does the private sector contribute to public sector-led regeneration in a different and more engaged manner, or is the public sector simply delivering a "competitiveness agenda" - that is, fostering favourable business conditions - for the benefit of the private sector?

Concerns have also been raised that the strategies may be overambitious.

Draft action plans are in place, but there is currently no guarantee of funding. Moreover, interviewees struggled to articulate the precise targets of CGS above and beyond broad regeneration goals.

Furthermore, the evaluation reveals that there is little, if any, evidence of prioritisation within the strategies. This is not really surprising when you consider that the formation of the CGS action plans is reliant on the actions of myriad stakeholders and partners, each with their own distinct organisational agendas. It is too early in the CGS programme to provide definitive conclusions on its impact, but it remains far from clear whether strategies will be able to achieve their objectives merely by influencing existing policies.

- Adam Fineberg is an independent policy and regeneration consultant and an Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) associate consultant.

He devised the 'Growth Coalitions' project.

- Evaluation of City Growth Strategies (CGS) Final Report is available via www.regen.net/doc

- Contact us. Do you know of an evaluation report with important lessons for other regeneration professionals? If so, contact Shafik Meghji on shafik.meghji@haynet.com.

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