Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Urban regeneration and policies of social mixing in British cities: a critical assessment

Claire Colomb


Over the past fifteen years, urban decision-makers in several countries have experimented with specific policies which seek to increase the social mix of particular urban areas, specifically via interventions in the housing mix, in order to tackle socio-spatial segregation, concentrations of deprivation and social exclusion. These interventions are based on the notion of the neighbourhood effect (or area effect), which hypothesizes that a high concentration of poor, or ethnic minority, people in specific areas reinforces and perpetuates poverty and exclusion. This contribution briefly analyses the policy initiatives set up in the United Kingdom by the New Labour government between 1997 and 2010 to encourage so-called mixed communities. The key assumption was that mixing different types of housing tenure would lead to greater social mix and to positive effects for (poor) urban residents and for deprived neighbourhoods at large. The paper reviews the arguments and approaches used to encourage such mixed communities and summarizes the state of academic research on the impacts and effectiveness of such policies. There is, to date, rather limited evidence that interventions in the housing mix alone can lead to greater social mix and to positive effects for deprived urban neighbourhoods and their residents. In the conclusion of the paper, succinct lessons are drawn for urban policies and area-based interventions in Spain and Catalonia.

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