Is it worth it? The economic value of investing in the public realm

Is It Worth It?
The Economic Value of Investing in the Public Realm

Despite major advances in recent years, the regeneration of urban public spaces is still regarded in many quarters as a cosmetic exercise, a bit of urban beautification but not really a serious device to be used in the toolkit for regenerating cities and certainly not anything to do with the economy. Until public space regeneration is understood and taken seriously; until it is recognised that there is a connection between whether people feel safe, comfortable, relaxed, entertained and informed and whether they participate in urban life economically, social and culturally; the cause of walking in urban areas will never be a key political agenda item. The regeneration of urban spaces can be a key driver, and sometimes the key driver, for overall urban regeneration there is evidence from a range of international case studies and specifically ongoing work in the EU North Sea Region to illustrate that spatial regeneration schemes can create significant economic benefits, overcome barriers to social inclusion, combat threats to well being, encourage environmental sustainability and celebrate local distinctiveness by promoting a cultural renaissance. The best means of measuring these benefits can be assessed to develop a transferable set of measures. The paper given at the conference held in Leicester will report the results of a major research study forming part of the EU Liveable City Programme and research being developed by the Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust and the Regional Development Agency (EEDA) and will make proposals for a performance indicators tool kit The paper is expected to conclude that only by demonstrating clearly the economic and other outputs/outcomes of spatial regeneration schemes can we hope to make a real change in the way that the pedestrian environment is viewed politically and culturally.

Michael Loveday
Chief Executive,
Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust (HEART)