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Impact  of urban regeneration on young people & their families

The Olympic Regeneration in East London (ORiEL) study

The Olympic Regeneration in East London (ORiEL) study: Evaluating the impact of urban regeneration on young people and their families

Start Date:  April 2010   End Date:  April 2015   Status: Completed


Despite continuing large-scale public investment, recent systematic reviews identify a dearth of evidence of the effectiveness of urban regeneration programmes in improving health and wellbeing, and alleviating health inequalities. The evidence that does exist is weak with mixed findings. In the UK, studies investigating the health impacts of urban regeneration are rare and highly variable in terms of study quality and reported outcomes, and primarily exist in the grey literature. Although some studies with health indicators have reported improvements (e.g. mortality rates) previous research also suggests the possibility of negative effects. Evaluations have tended to focus on short-term socio-economic outcomes (such as impacts on employment, education, income and housing quality) and have failed to investigate the links to health outcomes. These socioeconomic evaluations have also been mixed, with the reporting of both positive and negative effects on socioeconomic factors, making it difficult to speculate as to the direction and nature of plausible health impacts. Most studies are focused on adults: evaluations of the impact of urban regeneration on young people and their families represent an important gap in the evidence, as adolescence may be a critical point for the emergence of health inequalities in later life.

The proposed study focuses on urban regeneration specifically associated with the 2012 Olympics which might be criticised on the grounds of external validity. However, the components of the proposed regeneration programme are common to the majority of urban regeneration programmes elsewhere (e.g. improvements in facilities, services, housing and built infrastructure). This represents an opportunity for a great deal of wider learning to be gained around about the range and nature of positive and negative impacts and the causal pathways between urban regeneration and health by linking specific individual components of regeneration to changes in specific outcomes and behaviours. Overall, the literature is clear: robust evaluations of the impact of urban regeneration programmes on the social determinants of health, and on health and behaviours have rarely been undertaken. Similarly, there has been little work on how impacts vary across population sub-groups. This study meets the need to undertake an evaluation of the impact of urban regeneration on health and health inequalities. In this study we are assessing the health impacts of urban regeneration in a sample of young people and their families in East London.


The aim of the proposed project is to answer the primary research question:

  1. What is the impact of urban regeneration on the social determinants of health (employment), health behaviours (physical activity) and health outcomes (mental health and wellbeing) of adolescents and their parents?

Underpinning this aim are the following secondary research questions:

  1. What are the wider socio-environmental and health impacts of urban regeneration in terms of benefit status, educational attainment, social cohesion/capital, diet, smoking, alcohol use and obesity?
  2. How are socio-economic and health impacts distributed by age, sex, ethnicity and education?
  3. What are the effects on health and health behaviours of specific components of the regeneration programme?
  4. Are socio-economic and health impacts sustained over time?


These questions were to be answered using a longitudinal quasi-experimental questionnaire survey comparing changes in individual health over time in the intervention (regeneration) area with those in a comparison area, and an integrated in-depth longitudinal qualitative study of family experiences of regeneration in the intervention (regeneration) area. The longitudinal controlled quasi-experimental study comprises  comprise the following elements:

  • Population: Adolescents (aged 11-13) and their parents.
  • Intervention: Urban regeneration in Newham, London.
  • Comparison: No comparable urban regeneration in Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Barking & Dagenham, London.
  • Primary outcomes: Changes in employment status and occupation (adults); physical activity, mental health and wellbeing (adolescents and parents).
  • Secondary outcomes: Changes in educational attainment (adolescents), benefit status a social cohesion/capital (adults), diet, smoking and alcohol use, obesity (both).

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IHHD Project Lead:

Professor Adrian Renton

Project Team: Steven Cummins (PI, QMUL), Neil R Smith (QMUL), Charlotte Clark (QMUL), Amanda E Fahy (QMUL), Vanathi Tharmaratnam (QMUL), Daniel J Lewis (QMUL), Claire Thompson (QMUL), Adrian Renton (IHHD, UEL), Derek G Moore (IRCD, UEL), Kamaldeep S Bhui (QMUL), Stephanie J C Taylor (QMUL), Sandra Eldridge (QMUL), Mark Petticrew (LSHTM), Tricia Greenhalgh (QMUL), Stephen A Stansfeld (QMUL)

Funder: NIHR Public Health Research Programme

Project Partners: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary University of London (Centre for Psychiatry, School of Geography, Centre for Primary Care and Public Health), University of East London (IHHD and Institute for Research on Child Development)

For more information, contact: Adrian Renton,

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