The development and delivery of urban regeneration occurs through a panoply of organisations and governance arrangements, and has never been confined to any particular organisational type or context. While state-led, and publically funded, initiatives have been in the vanguard of regeneration, a whole mix of public and private institutions are key to facilitating outcomes, including major corporate organisations. This is particularly so in relation to retail-led regeneration, in which companies, such as Asda, Ikea and Tesco, are diversifying the portfolio of their activities by becoming increasingly active in commercial property development. For instance, in May 2012, Tesco completed the first phase of 94 affordable homes on behalf of Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association in London. The development is part of an 11-acre regeneration scheme that is expected to deliver 253 owner-occupied homes, 10 industrial units and 10 retail units anchored by a 38,000ft2 Tesco store.
This development is not an isolated example, but is part of a broader phenomenon of retail organisations’ involvement in urban regeneration, in ways that go beyond expanding existing store capacity or creating a new facility. One development, Strand East in Stratford, London, is occurring on land owned by Ikea. A recent planning application submitted by their development company, LandProps Holdings, is for 1,200 homes, a 350-bed hotel, office space, bars and restaurants. It has been described as a ‘proto-type’ town that is replicating ‘historic, chic downtown neighborhoods’ (Garun, 2012, p 1). Likewise, in the City of Bath, Sainsbury's has outlined plans to expand its existing 40,000ft2 flagship store to 60,000ft2, construct 300 new homes, with a mix of affordable and family housing, and provide offices, while rejuvenating underused land around a waterfront area. For Tim Watkins (2011), Sainsbury's development manager, ‘this is not just Sainsbury's we are talking about, this is a whole regeneration project.’
The propensity for corporate retail companies to engage in urban regeneration, beyond the provision of store capacity, is significant in an economic context characterised by public expenditure cuts, and the dismantling by the Coalition government of urban policy programmes put in place by previous, New Labour, administrations.