This research report examines area-based approaches to economic regeneration in Scotland, including evidence from three case studies focused on town centre regeneration, community-led regeneration and physical regeneration. The report identifies commonalities across the case studies and presents main messages for future economic regeneration initiatives.


a young plant growing from a jar filled with coinsEconomic regeneration relates to the importance of tackling the causes of economic decline through the development of targeted area-based regeneration strategies.

Area-based approaches to regeneration in Scotland have been positioned as an effective method for tackling concentrations of poverty, based largely on an understanding of self-reinforcing processes of area deprivation.

What Works Scotland in partnership with the University of Glasgow’s Training and Employment Research Unit (TERU) and the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum (SURF), developed this research study to share insights for future learning regarding economic regeneration in Scotland, reflecting on the use of area-based regeneration approaches to tackling physical, economic and social deprivation. The research approach was based on a largely qualitative and quantitative case study methodology, one-to-one interviews and a literature review.

Three case studies were selected for in-depth analysis in line with the focus in the Scottish Government’s regeneration strategy across three key areas: town centre regeneration; community-led regeneration; and physical regeneration.

The case studies are:

  • Town centre regeneration: the Bute Island Alliance, centred on the town of Rothesay on the east side of the island of Bute and less than two hours from the city of Glasgow, experiencing social and economic decline, depopulation and lack of investment.
  • Community-led regeneration: a social housing area of Broomhill in Greenock, with a history of economic decline, antisocial behaviour and community unrest.
  • Physical regeneration: the Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company (URC) in the centre of the Dalmarnock community in the East End of Glasgow, historically known for its legacy of social and economic deprivation and derelict land.

The report identifies a number of key commonalities and future challenges across the quite different settings and mechanisms of the cases studies, and presents main messages about the effectiveness of approaches to economic regeneration in Scotland.

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See the presentations from the What works in Economic Regeneration? seminar in June 2017

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Author: Linda Christie and Ken Gibb (What Works Scotland), Alan McGregor and Alex McTier (Training and Employment Research Unit)

Publication date: August 2017

Publication type: Research report