Estate Renewal

Estate renewal provide housing and amenity benefits. However, their economic impacts are limited.


This page offers an overview of why we are interested in estate renewal provision as a means of encouraging local economic growth and offers insight on what does and doesn’t work in this policy area.

It summarises some of the evidence we already have on what works when delivering these types of programmes, and offers some thoughts on improving evaluation as well as some case study examples. Throughout the page you’ll find links to further resources including a more detailed discussion of why we look at estate renewal, our full evidence review, as well as evaluation resources.

What do we mean by Estate Renewal and how can it deliver local economic growth?

Estate Renewal refers to area-based programmes that improve the housing stock, the built environment and other local amenities with the aim of improving outcomes for local residents.

The What Works Centre, focuses on estate renewal programmes involving an element of physical regeneration and is particularly interested in evidence on the effects on the local economy.

Governments develop estate renewal programmes with a wide range of objectives relating to social, economic and environmental benefits for communities. Consistent with this, the effects of estate renewal are wide ranging, but improvements to the physical environment may have a local economic impact by:

  • Increasing incomes or employment, either directly due to improvements for existing residents or indirectly by changing the composition of the area.
  • Improving other area outcomes such as crime.
  • Raising property values directly due to property specific improvements or indirectly due to area-level improvements.

Find out more about why look at estate renewal and how we define it.

What does the evidence on Estate Renewal show?

Estate renewal programmes lead to increases in property and land prices and rents, although not necessarily for nearby properties that do not directly benefit from improvements.

The programmes tend to have a limited impact on the local economy in terms of improving income or employment and similarly tend to have a limited impact on the local area in terms of reducing crime, improving health, wellbeing or education.

Our evidence review covers further findings on the effects of Estate Renewal on residents and the local economy. 

Find more details in the full review.

What policymakers need to know when designing Estate Renewal programmes

Economic benefits are not the prime justification for estate renewal programmes, but they are often cited as a benefit in the policy-making process. The available evidence urges caution on the extent to which these programmes will deliver local economic benefits. Generally, these programmes impact on local property prices, but do not have appear to have significant wider economic benefits beyond this.

It’s also important to distinguish carefully between effects on the local area and benefits to existing residents (who may be temporarily or permanently displaced as a result of estate renewal).

What policymakers and academics need to know when evaluating Estate Renewal programmes

We need to improve our understanding on how much estate renewal can benefit the local economy, and what characteristics of schemes may influence particular economic outcomes.

To help practitioners evaluate estate renewal programmes, we have pulled out two examples of good practice in this area:

Post-War Slum Clearance in the US This study examines the impact of a slum clearance and urban redevelopment programme that was implemented in the United States after World War II. Read more.

New Deal for Communities in England This study evaluates the New Deal for Communities (NDC) programme which was implemented from 2001 in 39 of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England. Read more.

You can learn more about how we rank evaluations using the Scientific Maryland Scale.

Evidence Review Downloads

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