A Social Regeneration Charter is a local policy framework aimed at ensuring regeneration of the local environment benefits the social and economic wellbeing of people that live, work, and visit the area.


On this Page:

  1. Planning Policy Frameworks
  2. Social Regeneration Framework
  3. Social Regeneration Charters
  4. Why are Social Regeneration Charters Important?
  5. Resources and Further Reading
  6. Support

“Social regeneration is about ensuring that the places where people live, now and in the future, create new opportunities, promote wellbeing and reduce inequalities so people have better lives, in stronger communities, and achieve their potential.”

-London Borough of Southwark

1. Planning Policy Frameworks

Before we look at Social Regeneration Charters specifically, it's important that we first look more broadly at at other relevant policy frameworks in London. Planning and regeneration can be described in terms of three layers of planning policy frameworks.

Let's begin by imagining a zoomed-out view of London. The first layer is The London Plan (GLA), a policy document which deals with London planning policy on the broadest level including all London Boroughs and Local Authorities, i.e. councils.

Then slowly zoom in towards the second layer with The New Southwark Plan (Southwark Council), which is similar but deals specifically with the London Borough of Southwark and all of its wards, community assets, and resources.

Finally, zoom in even further to the third layer which will bring you to Social Regeneration Charters which deal with regeneration on a smaller, local scale. 

Specifically, the three key policy frameworks, or layers, are as follows: 

  1. The London Plan: A policy framework that sets out the overall strategic plan for London, or rather the "economic, environmental, transport and social framework for the development of London over the next 20-25 years." The plan is currently agLondonreed in principle and should be published by the end of 2020.
  2. The New Southwark Plan: Broadly relating to The London Plan, The New Southwark Plan will be a borough-wide planning and regeneration strategy up to 2033. The plan sets out the aspirations of the borough’s distinctive neighbourhoods, informs decisions on planning applications and development proposals, and outlines potential development sites with specifications for development requirements. The plan deals with regeneration in Southwark on a wider scale but doesn't handle local issues in the same way as a Social Regeneration Charter. 
  3. Social Regeneration Charters: A Social Regeneration Charter is a local policy framework aimed at ensuring regeneration of the local environment benefits the social and economic wellbeing of people that live, work, and visit the area. Social Regeneration Charters can be, and usually are, produced in partnership with the local community who set out their priorities during the consultation period, i.e. before the Charter is adopted as official council policy. Developers must clearly show how in their proposals how they are incorporating community interests in their regeneration plans by reference to the local Social Regeneration Charter.

2. Social Regeneration Framework

In 2017, Southwark Council conducted a large consultation exercise with residents and businesses to understand the most important things that they should consider in planning matters. 

According to their analysis, The Social Regeneration framework (2017) identified three objectives:

  1. A borough-wide approach to improve the wellbeing of all the current and future generations.
  2. One Council and partnership approach to ensure all our assets are used and alignedeffectively to bring about improved wellbeing for people and places across Southwark
  3. Wellbeing as a primary outcome of all our work.

In order to deliver these three objective, a year later (2018) the council made three commitments to see through the completion of their objectives:

  1. IconLife opportunities, good health and wellbeing for all and pride of place
  2. Investing in Communities
  3. Reducing inequalities

You can read more specifics on each of these commitments here.

One of the key measures, or actions, taken to achieve these commitments was to implement Social Regeneration Charters which outline the different visions and strategies for each area earmarked for regeneration, such as Canada Water, Old Kent Road, and Peckham to name a few examples. By doing this, the council hoped to show their commitment to local communities when dealing with planning proposals from developers. 

The Council's commitments are summarised by their slogan 'Regeneration that works for all'. You will see this phrase echoed across numerous policy documents and local literature, from The New Southwark Plan to Social Regeneration Charters. Essentially, this slogan is the Council's commitment to being sensitive of the diversity of its people, and the variety of needs they must address in order to achieve their objectives. 


3. Social Regeneration Charters 

So now we can move onto Social Regeneration Charters themselves. 

Social Regeneration Charters are documents that clearly present local priorities for the council, developers, and residents alike. There are multiple Social Regeneration Charters that each correspond to a particular neighbourhood or area of Southwark. Essentially, they break down the key areas of improvement, who should benefit from these improvements, how to achieve these improvements, and ways to measure the outcomes of these improvements. They also reiterate the Council's commitments from the Social Regeneration Framework.

By-and-large, Social Regeneration Charters will have the following information that is specific to the area in question. There may be some slight variation in the titles across the different Charters, but generally speaking they will all contain the same elements:

New Southwark Plan Vision

The Charter will briefly rehash relevant information on the area in The New Southwark Plan. This makes sure that the Charter is coherent with the wider policy framework for the borough. Relevant information could include information on demographics, or districts recognised for their cultural or economic value. This information tends to be written in broad terms to accommodate local needs and not be too restrictive so as to permit the vision to develop organically by communication exercises with the community. 

Charter Vision
As the name would suggest, the Charter Vision provides the ultimate desired outcome of local regeneration if we were to assume the Social Regeneration Charter is taken seriously into consideration in every planning matter. Much like the the slogan 'regeneration that works for all', it is often one or two sentences that summaries the outcomes.
Goals
The goals are the general areas of improvement that need to be completed in order to meet the area vision and create 'regeneration that works for all'. These are usually quite broad and there are normally around four in total. They include things such as 'create more employment opportunities for young and disadvantaged people in the area' and 'bring more affordable housing' without going into the mechanics of achieving them. However, the Charter will go into this in more detail later in the document.
Promises
Arguably one of the most important aspects of the Social Regeneration Charter, the promises are actions that must be taken to achieve the goals. As you might expect, keeping each 'promise' is a vital aspect of maintaining trust between the council and the community, and ensuring the goals are met in a sincere, collaborative, and accountable manner that doesn't undermine this delicate relationship. 
A promise can include things such as 'invest in community centres and recreational facilities' and 'invest in programmes designed to develop the skills of young people'. Each of the 'promises' are placed underneath the corresponding 'goal' to illustrate why and to what end this promise is relevant to, as opposed to arbitrarily promising things to the local community without relevant cause.
Projects

These are constructive suggestions that show specific area that can be looked into to make sure promises are kept. Each of the 'projects' correspond to a 'promise', and each 'promise' corresponds to an overarching 'goal'.

Examples of a project could be to invest more money into a named programme or event, build new facilities on a specific street, or provide space and resources for existing groups to grow within the community. Suggested projects are important because, as time goes on, one can reasonably ask if a project has been carried out and, if not, why it has not been carried out. 

Given that the Social Regeneration Charters cover a long period of time, there are usually a lot of projects suggested in the document. Having projects in the documents highlights the council's accountability and illustrates engagement with the community and research before finalising the document. A lack of projects may show the opposite so it is important to be aware of this. 

Research

When clarifying the goals, promises, and projects, there is often some degree of research shown to underpin them which makes sure they are seen as valid and credible (i.e. a% of people want b, or previous research by c shows d). Watch out for these as they distinguish between fact and assumption. A sound Social Regeneration Charter will be by underpinned by sound and qualified research, and not assumptions.

The research will include a mix of information gathered during the consultation on the charter, and previous studies by public or private bodies prior to the consultation. 

Indicators

These are basically the means of measuring the outcomes. This can be in terms of numerical indicators, for example, '£a was invested into b neighbourhood or community centre', or 'number of affordable homes were built, representing a d% increase in affordable homes since 2018'.

They can also be circumstantial and describe how a sample of the population feel about a particular change in the local area. It is essentially anything showing substantial proof that the council have attempted to meet their promises to the community, attain their goals, and achieve the local vision for the area. 


4. Why are Social Regeneration Charters important?

While larger policy documents such as The London Plan and The New Southwark Plan are important, due to their policies mostly relating to larger administrative areas with large populations they don't tend to reach the same analytical scope of local needs in the same way as a Social Regeneration Charter would.

For this reason, when looking into developments in your local area it's more appropriate to see how reality corresponds to the promises and commitments outlined in your local Social Regeneration Charter, and the Social Regeneration Framework at-large, because these are more congruent with local priorities than the larger frameworks.

Nevertheless, the larger policy frameworks are still important as they signify the collective aspirations of Southwark and London in general, and give a greater sense of the direction and values underpinning planning and regeneration. 

Comparing material changes to your local area with the Social Regeneration Charter is more simplistic given that there will be many touchstone promises and goals that may appear more recognisable to you as they relate to the area in which you live or work. Therefore, you will have a clearer understanding of what kinds of developments should and shouldn't be taking place, and the agreed outcomes of these developments. As a result, it makes it far easier for you to hold people to account in terms of their commitments to delivering 'regeneration that works for all' for your area. Simple!  

Not all areas have Social Regeneration Charters yet, but there are some that are already published and many that are already in the works (as of September 2020). 

5. Resources and Further Reading

6. Support

If you would like help with any of the matters discussed on this page, or anything else on the 'Planning, Development & Regeneration' section of our resources, please contact: [email protected]

Cover photo credit: Free Vector