A 'whole place’ approach to regeneration
Housing associations across the UK play a major role to play in creating great places. In Thamesmead, we’re delivering regeneration and placemaking on a major scale – working with partners and communities to fulfil the town’s potential. Ellen Halstead, Director of Programme and Strategy for Thamesmead, explains.
It’s not uncommon for regeneration schemes to be quantified by phases, time frames and numbers of new or improved homes delivered. These measures are useful, giving a good indication of the physical changes to an area. But they should be viewed in the context of all the other work involved in creating successful, sustainable places – the equally important social, economic and environmental improvements that this work brings.
Let’s take Thamesmead as an example. Our ambition to deliver up to 20,000 much-needed homes in Thamesmead across three areas – South Thamesmead, West Thamesmead and the Thamesmead Waterfront – is significant. But this is also part of a much wider mission to improve, grow and look after the whole town for the long term.
This is placemaking on a major scale. Thamesmead is the same size as central London. As owners of two-thirds of the land, we’re working holistically with communities and partners to understand and respond to what they need and want from the town, and ultimately ensure Thamesmead fulfils its potential.
Our work starts with good town management, ensuring that the 5,200 homes we own and manage are well managed and maintained, and that the town is looked after day after day by our dedicated estate services team. Physical improvements to the town extend to enhancing and managing Thamesmead’s natural landscape (280 hectares of green space, five lakes and seven kilometres of canal network). Our cultural strategy and programme is all about making Thamesmead a great place to live – with places to go and things to do, all year round. Meanwhile our work within communities aims to support people through locally-focused services and activities, so residents can lead happier, healthier and wealthier lives.
We’re delivering all of this work in close collaboration with local people, respecting them as experts in their own place, and working with them to co-create a better Thamesmead for all. Our work with residents to co-produce shared spaces and plan the community-powered Thamesmead Festival each year are just two examples of how we’re doing this.
Bringing about positive change across Thamesmead is complex work. It requires a clear and comprehensive strategy and involves careful planning. We are guided by a core governing document, our Plan for Thamesmead, which we revise every five years. It’s delivered by specialist teams who bring experience and expertise, along with an enthusiasm to work together and join with others.
We’ve achieved a huge amount since we launched our first plan in 2018. Now, as we take forward our second Plan for Thamesmead (2023-28), we are determined to maintain momentum - building on our successes, reflecting on what we’ve learned, and continuing to make progress with our ‘whole place’ approach.