Estate regeneration is about challenging perceptions, improving prosperity and breathing new life into established communities.

Previously prosperous estates in the UK are battling economic downturn as industrial needs and political circumstances have changed.

At United Living, we want to improve opportunities and social gain by delivering successful regeneration projects for those who need it most.

The £10m Pillgwenlly Estate Regeneration Project in Newport, is the culmination of seven years of planning from Newport City Homes and the residents of the estate. For United Living, a regeneration scheme of this scale fits perfectly with our business values of partnership delivery and social gain.

The Pillgwenlly Estate is just one example out of many, of a misunderstood yet tightly knit community that has been left behind in terms of the benefits that can be gained from national economic growth and infrastructure development. Despite the perceived reputation of this estate as a crime hotspot there is a strong community in place which desires positive change. This once prosperous dockland estate remains a shining example of a diverse community working collaboratively to support one another.

Estate regeneration is a hot topic in the UK at the moment; our work at Pillgwenlly will support the Estate Regeneration National Strategy, embracing its guidelines around resident engagement and protection. The residents will continue to be at the forefront of the decision-making progress because they are the people who will be living in this soon to be transformed area.

Built in early 1900s, the estate last went under significant change in the 1960s and 1970s, when the trends of the era created a layout that has never quite worked properly for its residents.

Unfortunately, this once thriving estate is now among the most deprived areas in Wales, with high rates of unemployment, some serious health issues and low levels of academic achievement.

The latest index of multiple deprivation ranked Pillgwenlly as the 10th most deprived area in Wales out of 1,900.

To help turn this around, we are working in partnership with Newport City Homes, Pilgwenlly residents, the local authority and more than 30 stakeholders; engaging them at every phase to deliver a project that aims to tackle existing socio-economic and environmental issues and bring multiple benefits. We want to involve the whole community because we recognise that one size does not fit all.

A total of 200 homes will be transformed by this project. Areas that have become unfit for purpose and are currently being misused (for instance a basketball court which is renowned for anti-social behaviour) are set to be redefined and we are changing the layout of some streets to improve accessibility and the overall environment. We’re building a three-storey block of six one-bedroom flats and two three-bedroom houses, as well as a new community hub. Further to this, we will be recladding some homes to improve their appearance, while two new areas of open space and parking will be created.

To engage with the community, we’ve already held a ‘Supply Chain Development’ event and a ‘Meet the Contractor’ event. By listening to the concerns of residents, we fully appreciate that maintaining the estates strong sense of community spirit is a key priority. I hope that this collaborative approach will see a ripple effect of lasting improvements for the community and the wider area.

Estate regeneration has the potential to deliver additional homes, resident engagement, provide well-designed public spaces and a better quality of life in areas. Rundown estates like Pillgwenlly can become new thriving communities. But to be a success this estate regeneration must be locally-led, putting residents at the heart of the development.

This ambitious regeneration project will not only see new homes, improved open spaces and improved resident safety; but will also target employment and educational opportunities in the local area.

The area currently has the 22nd lowest income levels in Wales and the 25th worst educational levels out of 1,900 areas. The project alone will give more than 11,000 hours of employment and training, five apprenticeships and estate based employment opportunities for Tenant Liaison Officers. The scheme has also given us a chance to add to our team. Seven new people have been brought onto the regional team in managerial, apprentice and trainee capacities.

It is an exciting time for United Living Wales; we have previously undertaken all of the work elements featured in the Pillgwenlly regeneration scheme, but never collectively under one such project. This is an opportunity to bring together our skills repertoire and demonstrate the excellence in delivery and customer care that we have a track record in achieving.

As one of the largest estate wide regeneration projects in Wales, Pillgwenlly is certainly unique. South Wales has many particularly deprived areas as a result of major post-industrialisation, with the closure of the coal mines and the decline of other related industrial sectors. This project could be a stepping stone to improving more estates and communities in the region.

A statement often used in the social housing sector has never more relevant than in this project; the Pillgwenlly Estate regeneration project really is about much more than just bricks and mortar; it’s about community, prosperity and growth.