The London Regeneration: care for a share of the pie?

The London regeneration story has been one of my absolute favourites. When a world city like London, which is by far the most stable and lucrative city to invest in real estate, embraces regeneration, it brings forth a world of immense real estate investment opportunities, making an already popular market more desirable.

It is important to first understand the definition and ethos behind the regeneration initiative.

Urban regeneration is a holistic, comprehensive and integrated approach that embraces the three aims (the three E’s- Economy, Equity and Environment); maintaining economic competitiveness, reducing inequality and protecting and embracing the environment. That suggests a new generation of partnerships for policy development and delivery that includes innovative configurations of public, private and NGO sectors in more equal relationships as stated by Gibson & Kocabas (2001)

The deindustrialisation of Britain in the 1960s was one of the primary reasons for the urgent need of regeneration. The collapse of Britain's industrial and manufacturing economy saw many inner city areas get burdened by unemployment, poor housing and socially excluded from more wholesome and prosperous localities.

The purpose of regeneration was primarily to improve the social, economic, physical and environmental well-being of the local communities and offer them a fresh lease in terms of living conditions and economic opportunity. The government relied on the public – private partnerships to pump in investments into the regeneration areas.

One of the biggest success stories of regeneration is East London. Traditionally seen as the poor cousin of the tony west London, East London gained prominence in 2012 with the Olympic Games.

Let’s consider the regeneration of the Docklands area in East London. Made of 5 boroughs -Greenwich, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Southwark, the docklands area, once a thriving hub for transportation and industry became defunct in the early 1980s. Most of the housing in this area was council housing and it lacked any form of social and commercial infrastructure including banks, offices, schools, restaurants etc.

Today, with all the efforts of the London Docklands Development Corporation, this 8.5 sq miles of area is one of the most sought after by young professionals for quality housing, and also a great draw for major multinationals, finance companies, hospitality firms, and all the top banks to have their offices in.

Some of the noteworthy developments of the docklands regeneration are the formation of Canary Wharf, Docklands Rail, London City Airport, and the Excel Exhibition Centre. The One Tower Bridge Project by Berkeley Homes will also see an Indian hotel The Lalit opening its first flagship hotel in London.

Regeneration is essential in not only redefining the economics of the area, by providing high quality housing options with huge potential for capital gains, commercial and retail spaces, but also providing social infrastructure and a vibrant lifestyle.

With buyers and investors looking beyond the traditional golden postcodes, London’s residential landscape continues to evolve and expand. As large pockets of London undergo development or regeneration, up and coming areas begin to outperform others in terms of profitability, accessibility and vitality. Areas such as Tower Bridge, Elephant Castle , Paddington , Kings Cross are some of the most popular areas for investors looking at a piece of the regeneration pie.

For more discussions on which regeneration area you should look at investing in, contact myself on mona.jalota@colliers.com

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