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Housing Market Renewal and Demolition in England in the 2000s: The Governance of ‘Wicked problems’


  • Ian Cole


This paper considers some of the issues raised by the governance of housing market renewal, and more specifically demolition, in areas of England suffering from long-standing economic decline and housing market weakness. It examines the experiences of the Housing Market Renewal (HMR) Pathfinder initiative in England, which ran from 2003 to 2011. It reviews some of the strands in the critique of the programme and suggests that they may have tended to overstate the professional and institutional power of the agencies involved to ‘deliver’ their programmes in the face of media or community resistance. On the basis of secondary analysis and stakeholder interviews, the paper suggests that the underlying fragility of the ‘partnership’ governance model on which HMR was founded caused a retreat from demolition as an option in housing market restructuring and wider uncertainty about the focus of the programme -- they were ‘wicked problems’ that were difficult to manage. These problems were compounded first by the housing market impacts of global financial crisis from 2008 and the election of a hostile central government in 2010, leading to the premature closure of the HMR programme in March 2011. In conclusion, the paper considers whether it is likely that any future regeneration programme incorporating even modest levels of demolition will be attempted within a ‘partnership’ model of governance in areas of housing market weakness.

Suggested Citation

  • Ian Cole, 2012. "Housing Market Renewal and Demolition in England in the 2000s: The Governance of ‘Wicked problems’," International Journal of Housing Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 347-366, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:intjhp:v:12:y:2012:i:3:p:347-366
    DOI: 10.1080/14616718.2012.709672

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