14 Pages

Introduction: urban regeneration, a global phenomenon

ByMichael E. Leary, John McCarthy

Few would dispute that the modern city that first emerged in Europe in the eighteenth century and proliferated around the globe, is still characterized in part by the often shocking juxtaposition of areas of affluence and beauty, poverty and dilapidation. Frederich Engels and Karl Marx noted with some relish in the nineteenth century, the stubborn persistence of what we still recognize today as urban problems. Although it may be called different things in different countries: revitalization, renewal or renaissance – rewitalizacja, regeneración urbana, урбанская регенерация, शहरी उत्थान and 城市再生 – urban regeneration remains a high profile and important field of government intervention in a host of countries around the globe. This is despite the series of recurring economic crashes that hit many countries, particularly in the Global North, in 2006/7/8. Some opinions heralded the swingeing public spending cuts that followed the credit crunch in many of these countries as a regeneration death knell. In fact, economic hardship and business uncertainty necessitate continued government intervention to fund regeneration initiatives and boost confidence (Parkinson et al. 2009). Serious summer riots in several cities in France in 2010 and in the UK in 2011 added piquancy to the perceived political importance of regeneration. Policy and practice continue to adapt to the fresh challenges of the twenty-first century as well as to confront long-standing protracted and intractable urban problems and dilemmas. Academics, researchers and practitioners continue to provide critical insights into a multiplicity of urban regeneration issues principally at the level of individual projects and initiatives in particular cities. Recent years have seen some damning critiques of long-term urban regeneration interventions, especially in the UK (see, for instance, Leunig et al. 2008), which have compounded the complexities and created some confusion in what can sometimes appear to be a disparate field. Leunig et al., were condemned across the political spectrum in the UK, not least by the British Prime Minister-in-waiting, David Cameron, who said of Leunig, ‘I gather he’s off to Australia. The sooner he gets on the ship the better’ (quoted in Brown 2012; see also Wainwright 2008).