Communicate to regenerate

With large-scale neighbourhood regeneration back in vogue, housing providers need to be right on top of their communications to get the best results.

After years of being starved of funds and playing second fiddle to new development and stock condition, regeneration is back. Organisations are finding new ways to pay for and deliver the transformation of whole neighbourhoods. Communication plays a vital role in these big projects and can even be the difference between success and failure.

When putting together the finance, contracts, staffing, partnerships, legals and other resources needed to reboot an area’s fortunes, it’s easy – but risky – to overlook the need to mobilise and influence opinions.

We’ve had recent experience of high-profile, informed and well-organised opposition to proposed redevelopments, including applications for Judicial Review. In a way, these are the easiest to manage, because you know who the activists are and what drives them. Lower-level, ad-hoc, anonymous opinion, especially that dished out on social media can delay or derail a project just as easily.

Our three tips for successful regeneration communication are:

  • Agree a clear, detailed strategy and protocol – all the key partners to think about and approve the way inputs, objections, enquiries and crises are going to be handled, across the full range of media.
  • Keep up the momentum – when people hear nothing about a project they’re vulnerable to misinformation, or might even make up their own reality about what’s happening. So keep the news flowing, even if progress and decisions are delayed.
  • Locals are the best spokespeople – during big projects, it can feel like an army of outside experts parachute in, only to disappear again as soon as the work is done. Residents and community groups are in it for the long term, so draw on their knowledge, nous and credibility to make the case for positive change.

All of this has to be rooted in thorough, meaningful community engagement and consultation. Regeneration isn’t something that can be ‘done to’ local people; it has to be all about them and their community, from start to finish and into the future.

Are you planning, starting or in the middle of a regeneration project? Tell us how it’s going!


We can help you plan and deliver integrated, multi-channel communications and engagement to support your regeneration and redevelopment schemes. Contact Ian Hembrow on 01865 861664 or 07740 860942.

Ian Hembrow

About Ian Hembrow

Our housing and engagement consultancy lead. Ian is a former housing association director, and board member. He is also a qualified features journalist and works as an associate with Plain Language Commission.
Ian’s passion: dreams.