• Has to do with regenerating cities and early/inner city neighbourhoods facing decline.
  • The rebuilt and renewal of urban areas and settlements.
  • Rehabilitation of impoverished urban neighbourhoods through large scale renovation and reconstruction of housing and public works
  • The reinvigoration of a rundown urban area such as an inner city.
  • Takes place when the physical, social and economic characteristics of dilapidated urban settlement is being rebuilt as part of a strategic approach to improve the neighbourhood.

Urban regeneration becomes necessary when:

  • A neighbourhood has faced an elongated economic problem such as decentralization, underinvestment, structural or cyclical employment issues, demographic changes, massive and uncoordinated rural urban drift/physical changes in urban area.

An ideal regeneration principle should link the physical transformation of the built environment (neighbourhood) with the social and economic transformation of the residents (users).

The reason d’être for urban regeneration can be classified into three:

  • People: To enhance skills, capacities and aspirations to enable them participate in and benefit from opportunities.
  • Business: Improve economic competitiveness, create more local jobs and enhance prosperity.
  • Place: Improve the general appeal of a place to enable is attract more people and businesses through provision of better housing stock (commercial, residential, sports, etc, improved cultural and social amenities, improved living and working environment)

Urban regeneration projects to succeed must be a strategic collaboration between the government, the private sector, the local people and businesses, the developers and construction companies as well as interest groups especially the ones that centre on the environment.


  • Pittsburgh (United States) known before the 1950s as one of the dirtiest and most economically depressed cities but turned into a thriving city – the Golden Triangle.
  • The Canary Wharf neighbourhood in London – now regenerated into thriving commercial and residential neighbourhood.
  • Barcelona Waterfront in Spain – where the hosting of the 1992 Olympics provided the Catalyst for massive urban regeneration works.
  • The Battersea neighbourhood in Southwest London, which is presently undergoing massive urban regeneration projects.


  • A megacity of about 15million people
  • Will be the rank only after the mega cities of Tokyo and Bombay by 2015 according to UN estimates.
  • In the 1950’s, the inner city part of Lagos known as Isale-Eko had grown into a sprawling slum with massive overcrowding attendant environmental and with its wealth issues, crime, infrastructural decay etc.

To address the problem:

  • Government undertook a massive slum clearance exercise in the area, which entailed the relocation of the local residents to a new area known as Surulere into suitable accommodation developed by the government.
  • The relocation enabled government to undertake urban regeneration works in parts of Isale-Eko area, which remains a hub of business activities in Lagos – serving as the Central Business District.
  • Neighbourhood assumed a vibrant life after the regeneration works attracting lots of business and residents.
  • Overcrowding and the usual problems associated with it set in once again.
  • Massive traffic holdups due to decaying infrastructure and pressure on the available ones.
  • Government had to again intervene in about 2005 to carry out extensive regeneration works to improve the public infrastructure and services.


  • Appreciation in property values
  • Creation of more and better housing stock
  • Leads to the creation of a more vibrant neighbourhood with more businesses and facilities.
  • Opens up more opportunities for employment and wealth creation
  • Better and safer neighbourhoods
  • Healthier neighbourhoods
  • Enhances socio-cultural ties
  • Creation of more energy efficient and environmentally friendly neighbourhood.
  • Broader sustainable neighbourhoods that incorporates energy conservation, environmental considerations and green community planning initiatives.

Regeneration work must be handled with care so as not to destroy the social fabric of a neighbourhood, which might be difficult to recreate.

For instance, adaptive remodelling of old buildings as against total destruction tends to have less impact on the environment and sometimes has equal economic value with new building of similar nature.

Urban regeneration policies/projects are also very sensitive because it usually targets the most disadvantaged section of a city where the “poor” occupy and so such programmes are sometimes criticised as a “forceful removal”.

Efforts should therefore be made at the earliest stages to ensure that all critical stakeholders are on board to ensure a strategic “buy in”.

Major challenges of urban regeneration:

  • Lack of political will in the Lagos case, whereas the exercise was to cover 75 hectares, only 25 hectares was successfully done.
  • Resistance from the local population
  • Funding
  • Enabling laws


(Article written in 2013 by Emeka Eleh)






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