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Regeneration is as much about people as it is about bricks and mortar

Since 1945 the issue of regeneration has been one of increasing political concern.  As such, the processes and functions which underlie practical polices of regeneration have been the subject of contentious debate among academics and political commentators.  Above all, the focus of such debate has centred on the how regeneration should be conceptualised in theoretical terms as this impacts directly on the form and characteristics that regenerative efforts take.  Moreover, in order to uncover the essential issues with regards to regeneration it is vital that political agendas are exemplified in detail, as it is in the political arena that the basis of regeneration policy is to be found.

The purpose of this essay is to assess the primary focus of regeneration in terms of its goals and objectives.  The initial question which is posed is therefore whether regeneration is more about people than it is about bricks and mortar.  Above all, the very nature of this question indicates the general progression which has been witnessed in regeneration policy in the UK since the end of the Second World War.  Ultimately, the focus of regeneration policy has moved beyond the narrow confines in which it once resided to encapsulate a much wider area of analysis.  Thus, it is indeed correct to determine that regeneration today is certainly as much about people as it is about bricks and mortar.  Much of this has to do with a change in the theoretical assumptions which guide overall social policy in general.  Above all, in recent decades it has become increasingly apparent that issues such as poverty and exclusion have their roots in phenomena beyond the traditional structural and economic confines once thought.  As such, in order to fully exemplify the degree to which regeneration is as much about people as it is bricks and mortar it is necessary to fully expound the political developments and ideological positions which direct regeneration policy.  Indeed, such is the ultimate concern of this work.

However, possibly the greatest success of New Labour has been to redirect the focus of regenerative efforts to include a wide array of factors, thus fully appreciating the diverse nature of the problem. Indeed, this progression could certainly be characterised as altering the focus from bricks and mortar to people. Naturally, regenerative efforts aimed at housing and land development have been of paramount importance (Shapely, 2007).  However, the realisation that urban and residential regeneration hinges on more than simply the rebuilding of buildings has allowed for the root causes of the problem to be addressed.  Thus, initiatives aimed at education, employment, training, environment, health and family have all united together to represent a systematic attack on the primary features that exemplify communities in need of regeneration. 

In conclusion, the various discussions above have exemplified the degree to which the direction of regeneration policy has developed over a period of decades.  Moreover, it is possible to see the degree to which regeneration policy has altered significantly over recent years.  Ultimately, ensuring the active participation of local community actors in the regeneration process has meant that the focus of policy prescriptions has moved away from ideas centring of bricks and mortar to that of people.  Above all, the willingness to broaden the basis of analysis with regards to issues such as social exclusion and poverty accounts for this development.  Given the theoretical soundness of recent policy manoeuvres is it indeed likely that future regeneration polices will continue to be formed on such a basis.  Indeed, if hugely prevalent issues such as poverty and social exclusion are to be effectively addressed through policy moves in regeneration, it is essential that such continuation take place.

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