|Title||Governance of relocation: an examination of residential relocation processes in housing market renewal pathfinder areas in England|
This thesis examines governance processes shaping policy-induced residential relocation in a differentiated polity. It has been known since the post Second World War slum clearance that demolition and residential relocation present some of the most complex forms of planning intervention. Whilst intended for the benefit of the wider community, when mismanaged, housing demolition and relocation may incur heavy psychological costs of enforced relocation and the social cost of the destruction of healthy communities.
Launched in 2002, Housing Market Renewal (HMR) was the largest housing demolition initiative devised in the UK since the post Second World War slum clearance. Its key feature was the high degree of responsibility devolved to new sub-regional partnerships, the Pathfinders. The government did not provide standards nor guidance for residential relocation process or its outcomes. Pathfinders were entrusted to develop their strategies in response to their circumstances and contexts. Between 2002 and 2011, HMR partnerships demolished over 30,000 homes and acquired an additional 15,000. This caused approximately 50,000 residents to move from their homes. Yet research about residential relocation remains limited in several ways. Since the 1960s and 1970s, residential relocation has been examined as a matter of social and political debates, focusing mainly on negative residential relocation outcomes long after the process was over. This was no different in the case of HMR. HMR attracted the attention of critical gentrification research. This body of research argues that the gentrification in HMR is orchestrated by the state as the key actor and presents relocation outcomes as predominately negative. This study challenges that stand. Drawing on governance theory this research argues that understanding cross tenure residential relocation in the context of a differentiated polity entails an ability to grapple with disparate matters, such as institutional complexity, governmental fragmentation, multiplication of agencies and complex webs of relationships. Distinctively, it focuses on procedure and works towards devising a theoretical vehicle that shows how governance has a profound impact on relocation delivery.
The thesis uses a sociological approach to research underpinned by grounded theory as qualitative methodology. The key primary source of data are over 40 face-to-face interviews conducted with important stakeholders from public, private and community sectors in two pilot studies, a qualitative survey of ten Pathfinders and an in-depth case study of Bridging Newcastle Pathfinder between 2007 and 2011.
The findings show that cross tenure residential relocation in a differentiated polity is delivered by a complex network of actors from public, private and community sectors. Residential relocation practices vary on project scale and are shaped by interaction of five distinct processes. The relocation outcomes are the result of a network operation, differ on sub-regional, local authority, project and household level and are both positive and negative.
The thesis recommends further exploration of „governance of relocation‟ as a model for researching residential relocation in other differentiated polity contexts and provides recommendations for future policy design.