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Negative Impacts of Regeneration

Regeneration has been shown to be of great benefit to certain places (and certain people!) However, alongside these benefits are many negative impacts on other subgroups of society. These negative impacts can result in community conflicts - but these challenges can be addressed. Read on to find out more about how areas can be developed with local people in mind.

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Negative Impacts of Regeneration

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Regeneration has been shown to be of great benefit to certain places (and certain people!) However, alongside these benefits are many negative impacts on other subgroups of society. These negative impacts can result in community conflicts - but these challenges can be addressed. Read on to find out more about how areas can be developed with local people in mind.

Regeneration Meaning

Regeneration is the long-term upgrading of existing urban, rural, industrial and commercial areas to bring about social and economic change. It can take many forms and can be achieved through the implementation of several different strategies. The purpose of regeneration is to improve the areas people live and prevent them from falling into disrepair.

Negative Impacts of Regeneration Example of urban regeneration StudySmarterFig. 1 - Urban renewal shown by new and old buildings together.

While regeneration can be argued to benefit the areas and communities in which it occurs, there are undeniably several negative impacts of regeneration. Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

What Are The Negative Impacts of Regeneration?

Some of the most noticeable negative impacts of regeneration include:

  1. Economic Inequality
  2. Displacement of locals
  3. Threat to local business

Economic inequality

As a place is upgraded via regeneration, it is typical for products and services offered within the area to get more expensive. Whether this is the price of a house, bills, or a haircut, rising expenses can contribute to economic inequality.

Why? One of the main ways that regeneration happens is through the process of gentrification. This occurs when wealthy people move into an area and ‘improve’ it. As things become more expensive to accommodate the demands of wealthier people moving into an area, it becomes more difficult for less wealthy people (often people who originally lived in the pre-gentrified area) to afford to live there. In turn, this makes it harder for less wealthy people to access the same provisions and resources as wealthier people and can reinforce divides between people of different incomes and reduces social mobility. Research by Prof. Henry Overman has shown that most of the benefits of regeneration projects in Manchester city centre and the London Docklands did not help those originally living in those places.1

Gentrification: the process of regenerating an area (often a poor area) to allow wealthier people to move in. The locals are often pushed out of the area due to increased rents.

As long as regeneration projects keep local people in mind, regeneration tends to be more beneficial to an area than gentrification.

Negative Impacts of Regeneration Gentrified building StudySmarterFig. 2 - Gentrified building in Mexico City's Roma neighbourhood.

Displacement of locals

If prices associated with the cost of living rise too much, many locals in a regenerated area may be forced to relocate elsewhere. This displacement of locals is an extremely negative impact of regeneration. Not only does this displacement affect the individuals, but it also impacts the place itself. A loss of culture may occur.

Forced relocation can impact individuals' well-being (having to leave their homes behind can cause adverse mental health effects) and lifestyle (e.g. potentially long commute times).

On a much larger scale, the character of the place is likely to change dramatically. This is because one of the factors that make up a place (its locale and culture) will be altered as its economic and social makeup is changed. This can be viewed as a negative impact of regeneration because it is argued by some that it is stripping places of their unique and historical characters. It is important to note, however, that some argue that some alterations of places are beneficial to the population by improving infrastructure and services available.

The threat to local businesses

As regeneration occurs, threats to local businesses can sometimes increase. This can happen for a few reasons:

  1. The cost of rent and operating increases

  2. The influx of a new type of consumer with different demands

  3. The introduction of competition

To think about this further, let’s consider a hypothetical example.

Let’s say that there is a small business on a high street that sells groceries. As the area is regenerated or gentrified, it becomes more expensive for the owners of the business to rent the shop. This means that the company has to sell more groceries to afford the rent and still make enough of a profit to stay in operation. On top of this, the different flows of people in and out of the area are likely to create different people acting as customers. These new customers (who may have driven the regeneration of the area via gentrification) may prefer the products offered by the new businesses (competition) introduced to the place. This competition will often be part of the regeneration project and so will have been introduced to cope with the demands of the area.

For instance, in the case of this hypothetical groceries example, a supermarket may have been constructed on the high street. A small local business may find it difficult to compete with a supermarket as it might not be able to offer the same competitive prices and variety of products. This would mean that more people would use the supermarket instead of the local business. This would be a huge threat to the local business because it would eventually not have enough money to continue in that location.

Negative Impacts of Regeneration Local market potentially threatened by TNCs StudySmarterFig. 3 - Local fruit market which could be threatened by (large) transnational corporations (TNCs).

Causes of Conflict in the Society

Regeneration and its various negative impacts often cause conflict in society. This is due to community tension that arises in response to increased inequalities and forced displacement of locals. Many locals in areas undergoing regeneration feel that the gentrifiers (people regenerating the place) are a threat to the place that they have a strong connection. Furthermore, they often feel resentment towards or frustration with the people who are causing them to suffer socially and economically. On the other hand, some gentrifying people regard locals as a barrier to regeneration and thus can create tension on the flip side of the coin. What does this mean? This means that, if left unchecked, conflict can appear in society.

Conflict in the community can manifest itself in many different ways. For instance:

  • Protests/demonstrations (e.g. NIMBY projects)

  • Strikes

  • Petitions

  • Vandalism

  • Violence

Types of Community Conflicts

There are different types of conflict that can occur in communities. These include:

Types of community conflicts
Type of conflictExplanation
Interpersonal conflictAn interpersonal conflict is a conflict that happens between two individuals. Vandalism and violence can be examples of interpersonal conflicts.
Intragroup conflictAn intragroup conflict occurs within a societal group.
Intergroup conflictAn intergroup conflict occurs between societal groups. Strikes, protests and demonstrations are examples of intergroup conflicts. These can also lead to interpersonal conflicts.
Table 1

To put this into context, let’s assume that two groups inhabit a place: Group A and Group B. An interpersonal conflict occurs between one person from Group A and one person from Group B. An intragroup conflict might occur between members of Group A, and an intergroup conflict might occur between members of Group A and Group B.

When considering types of conflict in the context of regenerating places, the two ‘groups’ mentioned in the above example are often made up of ‘locals’ (people originally from the place being regenerated) and ‘newcomers’ (people moving into and changing the area through regeneration).

Effects of Conflict in the Community

Community conflicts can have several effects on society and places. Here are a few possible impacts of such disputes:

  • Escalation of the issue (to more extreme disputes, potentially inciting violence)

  • Political instability

  • Challenges in governing people/places

  • Lack of community cohesion (stronger divides between people; the creation of an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ narrative)

  • Decreased productivity

  • Psychological impacts on individuals directly (participating) and indirectly (affected) involved

How Do We Manage the Negative Impacts of Regeneration?

It is important to note that while there are many negative impacts commonly associated with regeneration, there are ways that these can be managed to prevent the emergence of tension and/or conflict. Some management strategies that have been employed in regenerating places include:

  • The introduction of affordable housing for locals
  • Financial support for local businesses
  • Incentives for the ‘locals’ and ‘newcomers’ to integrate
  • Conflict resolution resources such as 'townhalls'

Negative Impacts of Regeneration - Key Takeaways

  • Regeneration can have several negative impacts on people and places.
    • These negative impacts can include but are not limited to; economic inequality; displacement of locals; loss of place character; threat to local businesses and the introduction of community conflicts.
  • Community conflicts can arise because of the negative impacts suffered by people in response to regeneration.
  • These conflicts can be interpersonal, intragroup and or/intergroup in nature.
  • Despite these challenges, there are strategies that can be implemented to reduce the risks of these impacts, including;
    • affordable housing for locals, financial support for businesses, conflict resolution resources

References

  1. Prof. Henry Overman. Government urban regeneration initiative failed to improve Britain’s most deprived areas. The London School of Economics and Social Science. 4 May 2021.
  2. Fig. 1: Urban renewal shown by new and old buildings together (https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/127500) by Colin Smith (https://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/3972) Licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse)
  3. Fig. 2: Gentrified building in Mexico City's Roma neighbourhood (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mexico_City%27s_Roma_neighborhood_gentrification_2016.jpg) by Francisco Peláez (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Francisco_Pel%C3%A1ez) Licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)
  4. Fig. 3: Local fruit market potentially threatened by TNCs (https://www.flickr.com/photos/16953270@N00/2715600222) by Filip Maljković (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dungodung/) Licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Frequently Asked Questions about Negative Impacts of Regeneration

Conflict in the community can be caused by the exacerbation of economic and social inequalities in response to regenerating places.

Conflicts in the community can be avoided through the implementation of measures, such as cheaper housing incentives, financial support, community cohesion incentives and conflict resolution techniques.

Community tension is a physical or psychological state that threatens the stability and peace found within a community. This is often caused by disagreements in opinions or circumstances between subgroups of the population.

Examples of community tension include: violence; demonstrations; protests; petitions and civil unrest.

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

What is not a potential negative impact of regeneration?

What are some potential effects of community conflict?

True or false: regenerating places only has positive impacts on the place.

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