With the launch of the National Treasury's Urban Renewal Tax Incentive scheme it is hoped that commercial and residential buildings in designated inner city areas within selected municipalities will be refurbished and constructed. Such investment should return these areas to their former glory as vibrant city centres where many people will live, work and entertain themselves more than ever before.

The incentive supports the objectives of the Department of Housing's comprehensive plan for the development of affordable living within the city, thereby serving as a catalyst for public-private partnerships in mixed-use developments. What, then, does regeneration mean for attorneys involved in property law?

With the opportunities come challenges for those attorneys schooled in the traditional property development schemes such as speculative ventures involving one fund and one developer, with the local municipality having been sidelined into giving planning permission. To take the renewal forward attorneys will have to acquire and develop new skills, be able to thrive in new disciplines and be adaptable to the needs of their clients. A thorough understanding of the law is a sine qua non. Attorneys will have to work well with other disciplines, such as construction professionals, in relationships in which both sides must be clear as to who does what.

Attention will also have to be given to environmental, historical and aesthetic considerations - it's all very well putting up a monument to post-modernism, but there is little point if in doing so it alienates just about everyone and ruins the streetscape. Regeneration is different from old-style redevelopment precisely because its principal aim is to benefit the public at large and to respond to these considerations.

For the attorney's part, the acquisition of new skills does not mean that traditional skills will be left behind; instead, they will be enhanced.

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