Urban regeneration of economically, socially, and culturally deprived areas has been a recognised priority in the UK for over twenty years. Current literature reveals that the most successful regeneration schemes incorporate both significant capital investment, usually anchored around some flagship development such as a sports facility, and social programmes to address the vocational, educational, and personal needs of individual residents of the deprived areas targeted for regeneration. Such regeneration efforts have been found to be most effective when undertaken in partnership with local entities and local residents themselves.
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This study seeks to consider the factors contributing to one such project in North West England. Specifically, the used of a sports development, Sport City in East Manchester, facility created for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, which was used to facilitate a number of related initiatives resulting in dramatic economic revitalisation of the East Manchester area.
Various methods of addressing urban decay have been employed in the last forty years, since the problem of substandard living and working conditions in specific neighbourhoods, typically in the inner cities, was identified as a national problem. To consider how urban regeneration policy and practice is employed in the UK, it is first necessary to define urban regeneration and consider its historical underpinnings. This includes various initiatives and theoretical viewpoints from which such redevelopment has been undertaken. Specifically, this research will consider urban regeneration in general, followed by focused consideration of economic factors and social exclusion, and how the use of investment in sport stadia and related facilities can enhance or provide the foundation for urban regeneration projects. One specific project, the creation of Sport City in East Manchester, England, is considered in detail. This project is actually the culmination of several urban regeneration projects over a ten-year period, aimed at first enhancing Manchester’s bid to host the Olympic Games on two occasions and later in its eventual hosting of the seventeenth Commonwealth Games in 2002, the UK’s largest sporting event to date (Jones and Stokes 2003). This project is significant as it involved a number of projects and programmes aimed not simply at economic stimulus to a depressed area through funding of a public work, but also at serving the employment and other needs of the indigenous impoverished neighbourhoods in the East Manchester area and surrounds. The success of the Sport City project can be evaluated in a number of ways; two undertaken in this research include effects on those local residents directly participating in related urban regeneration programmes and analysis of the economic impact on the community as measured through various economic and social indicators. This research includes both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the project, with implications then drawn for use of sports stadia and capital projects as flagship developments in urban regeneration.
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