DOUCET, B (2007)
Flagship Regeneration: panacea or urban problem?
Paper presented to: EURA Conference “The Vital City” 12-14 September, 2007, Glasgow, Scotland.
ABSTRACT: Large scale flagship urban regeneration projects have been a favoured tool for economic growth and city boosterism by civic leaders for more than two decades. Such projects are intended to play a catalytic role in urban regeneration often by creating high profile and high end retail, residential, entertainment and tourist spaces in what were once derelict or underused urban space. They are often tied into aggressive city re-branding or marketing campaigns which seek to launch a new urban vision (away from an industrial city to a creative, dynamic, profitable environment to visit and invest in). They are seen by planners, developers and local politicians as a panacea for the problems of deindustrialisation and regional economic stagnation. However, this support for flagships from civic leaders and developers is in stark contrast to much of the scholarly literature, which states that rather than contributing to overall economic growth, this form of regeneration diverts scarce resources from areas such as housing and education. In addition, rather than mitigating socioeconomic polarisation, it is argued by many that flagship regeneration actually contributes to it, and creates a new form of spatial division within cities. Yet despite these vocal criticisms from the academic community, this type of regeneration continues into the Twenty-first Century. Lost in this debate is the perspective of urban residents, who must live with these flagships on a daily basis. While there are many theories related to how residents would react to flagships, there is little empirical evidence to validate these claims. This paper will outline and critically analyse the arguments for flagships, and the major criticisms of them, from the perspective of urban residents.