Evaluating mega-urban regeneration projects
: Developing a new framework

  • Reyhaneh Rahimzad

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Mega Urban Regeneration Projects (MURPs) have become key features of regeneration in many cities. Like many large projects, MURPs, because of their complexity and scale, often face the difficulties of being over-budget or late. The overall aim of this research is to develop and validate a new framework to evaluate mega urban regeneration projects. To address this fours objectives are formulated. Firstly, to explore the nexus between MURP, urban transformation and globalisation. Secondly, to identify the characteristics of sustainable mega urban regeneration projects. Thirdly, to investigate existing sustainable urban regeneration frameworks. Fourthly, develop a framework to evaluate Mega Urban Regeneration Projects and finally, validate the framework. The research seeks to apply institutional theory in order to analyse the role of different institutions, their capacity in policy development, implementation and coordination of urban regeneration processes. The research acknowledges the distinction between inductive and deductive approaches but uses aspects of both approaches in its different phases. Initially, the most appropriate path for this research is a deductive route, top down method; to generate a draft framework to reflect key notions and measurable indicators to assess mega urban regeneration projects. Later, the thesis used the inductive approach during subsequent qualitative probing to investigate the complex institutional, structural and cultural factors at play to gain a more nuanced insight, which takes account of different organisational structures, cultures and institutions and variable local conditions. The investigation of the proposed project evaluation framework adopted a qualitative approach. This was achieved through a comprehensive review of literature and analysis of a number of MURPs at the international level in order to identify key attributes of such projects. The empirical phase involved face to face interviews with key stakeholders involved with planning, finance, investment, development and implementation of major mega urban regeneration projects and case studies of Kings Cross, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Nine Elms Projects in England and Utrecht Station Area Redevelopment (USARP) project in the Netherlands. The thesis found that MURPs are, by definition, expensive, complex and have multiple – often competing – goals, which complicates their assessment. Even though the draft MURP evaluation framework is balanced and multi-faceted with procedural and teleological aspects, it offers no definitive blueprint. Even the proposed MURP assessment tool considers sustainability; it is not a ''silver bullet'' but part of a multi-criteria, iterative participatory and evolving evaluation process which needs to engage with all stakeholders. MURP’s transformative aspirations must be tempered by consideration of the urban and site context within a specific cultural and legal and planning regime. Infrastructure investments or entrepreneurial interventions need to be commercially viable, enhance the public realm or otherwise demonstrate strong social benefits. Nevertheless, despite its limitations the MURP framework provides a useful supplement to standard planning or commercial project evaluations. It presents an objective, scientific way of approaching contentious issues. Without the framework, misguided projects can start, or good ones stall, due to wrangling between rival stakeholders. This study makes original contribution to knowledge in the form of theoretical, policy, methodological and practical contribution in understanding Mega Urban Regeneration Projects (MURPs).
Date of AwardAug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SponsorsRoyal Agricultural University
SupervisorAli Parsa (Supervisor) & Simon Huston (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • megaprojects
  • urban regeneration

Cite this

'