The chancellor’s pre-Budget statement opens a new chapter for regeneration this week, with the expected release of policy documents including economist Kate Barker’s review of the planning system.

Government policy to regenerate our cities, towns and housing estates has already spawned a massive industry, worth £5.5bn this year. Even before Gordon Brown’s pronouncements, the industry’s value is expected to grow by a fifth over the next year.

That growth is understandable, given the sheer breadth and scale of emerging regeneration projects. Look at Argent’s King’s Cross Central: 8 million ft2 of development space, 50 to 60 buildings and a construction programme lasting up to two decades. The creation of King’s Cross Central demands not only construction on a massive scale, but a range of softer skills in engaging with the existing community and other stakeholders, and the establishment of a new social infrastructure.

Regeneration crosses many disciplines and concerns all of us, whether in the quality of our urban centres, housing affordability, social cohesion, infrastructure, the Thames Gateway or the 2012 Olympics. Whatever form regeneration takes, its goal is the same: to make our cities, towns and housing estates better places to live. The finalists in the Regeneration awards 2006 all deserve recognition for their contribution to this objective.

The Regeneration awards are now in their third year and the awards dinner moves this year to a new venue: the Great Room at the Grosvenor House hotel. The move has been driven by the awards’ success, another reflection of the continuing growth of the regeneration industry. The shortlisted companies and projects represent best practice from across the UK. Included are such diverse schemes as: the Arsenal regeneration project in north London, Manchester’s Grove Village PFI housing scheme, Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum and the Macdonald Aviemore Highland Conference Centre in Scotland.

Next year the industry faces its fair share of challenges, with a Comprehensive Spending Review, a white paper on planning and the Climate Change Bill on the horizon.

Regeneration projects may not get any easier to deliver, but this is an industry that has acquired a reputation for making the impossible happen. Time and again, it comes up with innovative solutions to unlock complex and seemingly intractable sites. Tonight’s finalists are the best there is.