Capital Spread: Mapping the GLA’s Regeneration Spend between 2008-2016
As his mayoralty draws to a close, we thought it would be interesting to take a look back at Boris Johnson’s approach to regeneration and specifically, where the Greater London Authority’s cash has been spent over the last 8 years.
We have mapped where the £142m was allocated through the four major regeneration grant funds (Outer London Fund (OLF), Mayor’s Regeneration Fund (MRF), High Streets Fund (HSF), London Regeneration Fund(LRF)) since the first round of OLF was launched, commencing a new approach to regeneration.
The Outer London Fund was interesting not just because of its geographical focus, but because of the emphasis it put on town centre improvement and enhancing the visual quality of places across Outer London. This has become somewhat of a hallmark of Mayor Boris Johnson’s approach to regeneration, with a second round of OLF, HSF and LRF all following in this approach. In addition to this, the Mayor’s response to the disturbances across London in the summer of 2011, the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund (MRF) has also supported a similar range of place based interventions.
Looking back now, this focus on localities and places is quite distinct from Ken Livingstone’s approach of focusing resource on the Central Activities Zone and the larger Metropolitan Town Centres. This approach makes sense in an increasingly polycentric city, and evidence (from our previous evaluations – such as the recent OLF R2) suggests that this policy direction has helped boroughs focus on a number of different solutions for various different types of centres.
Distribution of funds…
As our map shows, in terms of the distribution of funding the GLA has actually done a pretty good job. In total, over £142 million has been invested through the two rounds of OLF, MRF, HSF and LRF, with an average of £4.6 million across each borough receiving funding. This skewed somewhat by Haringey and Croydon which received significant MRF investment (£28 million and £23 million respectively).
Other interesting points to note are that:
- Over 100 different projects have been supported across 31 boroughs in London. The number of projects supported by borough varied from one project in LB Redbridge and LB Kensington and Chelsea respectively to eight projects in LB Southwark.
- A total of £125.6 million of additional match funding has been leveraged through the four funding pots in London. This brings total regeneration spend in London enabled by the GLA between 2008 and 2016 to £268.3 million.
- The Outer London Fund and the High Street Fund have both supported over 40 projects each.
- Overall Outer London has received a total of £113.3 million (or 79%) of GLA funding between 2008 and 2016.
- Total average regeneration spend per London resident between 2008 and 2016 was £17.87. This varied from 79p per resident in Kensington and Chelsea to £64.76 in Croydon and £118.80 Haringey.
You can look for yourself at which projects received funding through either of the four regeneration funding streams on the interactive chart below. The map shows all the projects that have received funding and lists the amount of additional match funding leveraged (where known).
What is the impact?
We have been fortunate enough to be involved in assessing the impact of a number of these funds. The interventions have been diverse, including both major capital investments (eg enhancements to the public realm and street scene, and investment in open workspace) and a range of revenue activates (eg programmes of events, marketing, business support and town centre management activities).
In reality, it will be a number of years before the projects which have been delivered (and which in some cases are still in delivery) will be fully embedded and yielding their true economic benefits. However, initial evaluation work of the Outer London Fund has demonstrated that investment is delivering a range of benefits for London including generating new local momentum; improved town centre vitality; strong strategic leadership and influence (from GLA and boroughs); and development of local engagement and capacity to deliver.
Given the timing of this blog, all of this begs the question of what next? The new mayor will no doubt want to put their own mark on the landscape and define new funds. The geographic focus has been pretty successful in getting people to think about places rather than administrative boundaries and the competitive nature of the funds has helped develop some innovation in the projects which have been delivered.
It could be argued that with such high recent investment in town centres, the time may have come to focus on other geographies.
Recent research into industrial space in London has concluded that release has been much more significant than previously estimated. Given the need to protect industrial land to support London’s operation, alongside growth in the Maker and Creative economy (building upon some focus in the London Regeneration Fund), investment targeting diversification and improvement of industrial estates would seem reasonable.
Recent successes in the Mayor’s Crowdfunding pilot have shown Londoner’s passion for the places in which they live. This, alongside the need for estate renewal and improvement could perhaps point to the need for a more Estate focused fund? Alternatively, with a mixed picture in terms of town centre performance, the uncertainty of the 2017 rate review and a growing and more diverse population, it might make sense to stick with what has worked pretty well for the last eight years.
The truth is, that it will be a number of years before the projects that Boris has funded are fully embedded and are yielding their true benefits. This means that ultimately and unsurprisingly, it will be the personality and preferences of the new mayor which will shape how money is invested over the next term and beyond.
Regeneris has supported numerous successful bids to the GLA for funding over the last eight years. We have also evaluated OLF R1 and R2 and are currently undertaking a long term evaluation of the impact of the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund.