We will not be silenced

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“We will not be silenced”—That is the main message I remember from reading about the PPP regeneration project in Dublin, which captured the attention of many Irish citizens. They went out to the streets and demonstrated. They demonstrated surprisingly in support of the regeneration deal, saying:

They hope we will go away and stay in our long forgotten ghettos across Dublin City. We will return to our homes not to forget our dreams of a decent place to live but to organize our fight against Dublin City Council. We are asking people to come out and support us, to wear black and bring pots and pans to make plenty of noise. We will not be silenced. We want our 14 acres site developed as agreed.

This shows the unprecedented support the community of citizens provided for the redevelopment of Brownfield ghettos. This kind of PPP is much closer to the hearths of all citizens living in a city undergoing regeneration, and every success and failure is immediately recognized.

Ireland’s experience with PPPs has not been trouble free, and this negative experience has turned some professionals against the concept. Regeneration projects are indeed quite complex since responsibility is spread between state and municipal budgets, a number of financial public facilities and government departments. The complexity is also multiplied by the large number of stakeholders with often contradictory interests. Stakeholder consultations regarding urban regeneration are therefore difficult and lengthy. But this industry has also had a lot of success stories, for example, in the US, Canada, Germany and the UK.

The UK has established a special agency to deal with Brownfield regeneration called English Partnerships (EP), and in 2008 EP merged with the Academy for Sustainable Communities, finally resulting in The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The HCA has become the largest regeneration Agency in Europe with an annual investment budget over £5 billion. It is great when you have funds, strategy and an institution to deal with Brownfield regeneration—this makes it much easier to deal with large municipal areas. The approach holds out some promise in resolving the perennial problem of transforming slums into places that provide a friendly living environment, jobs and housing as opposed to crime concentrating Brownfields on the borders of large industrial cities.

This has also been the recent strategy of Thailand’s government in supporting the regeneration of slums, which are often located on valuable development sites. The land value in these slums when exercised is used to pay for the new housing development for the people from the slum. One example of this is the Bang Bua Canal in Bangkok, which has been redeveloped based on a 30 year long land lease developing a great network out of communities alongside the canal. If this kind of policy is adopted as government strategy and is successfully applied, people will not have to go to the streets and shout "we will not be silenced."

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