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Consultant criticises association for ‘misrepresenting’ regeneration report

The author of a report used by a housing association in its arguments for demolishing a former council estate in Bath has criticised the landlord for “misrepresenting” his research.

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Academic criticises association for ‘misrepresenting’ regeneration report

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Curo, which manages more than 12,000 homes in the South West, will see its outline plans for comprehensively redeveloping most of the Foxhill Estate – one of 105 to receive funding from the government’s Estate Regeneration Programme – go before Bath and North East Somerset Council’s development committee tomorrow.

A 2012 study, Foxhill at the Crossroads, which highlighted the estate’s socio-economic deprivation and isolation from its wealthier surroundings, is cited extensively in Curo’s October 2016 ‘Foxhill Regeneration Planning Statement’ and subsequent ‘Technical Evidence for Regeneration’ document.

But Mark Hepworth, research and policy director at social inclusivity consultancy The Good Economy, who wrote the report, has told Inside Housing that prior to last week he had “no idea” his work was being used by Curo and that “not in [his] wildest dreams” would he have expected it to be used to advocate for knocking down the “heart of the estate”.

He said: “My report never foresaw nor was intended to provide a justification for the wholesale demolition of the heart of Foxhill and the displacement of local residents. Rather the focus was how to improve the quality of life for Foxhill’s existing residents.”

In a statement, Curo said it not relied on the report as the “sole reason” for its regeneration plans, with several other factors influencing its decision.

“There are many other factors including government data which clearly states that Foxhill is one of the most deprived areas in England. [Official] figures show that in 2004 Foxhill was among the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in England, and by 2015 this figure had worsened to 11%,” a Curo spokesperson added.

“At Curo, we believe that this is totally unacceptable in a city like Bath where residents in other neighbourhoods can enjoy a life expectancy more than 10 years longer than residents in Foxhill.”

Curo has long planned to regenerate the Foxhill Estate, having acquired a 48-acre Ministry of Defence site neighbouring the estate in 2013.

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