Cities Unlimited -
Making urban regeneration work
By Tim Leunig and James Swaffield, edited by Oliver Marc Hartwich
Published by Policy Exchange (London), 13 August 2008, ISBN 978-1-906097-28-8
Download the report
decade of regeneration policies has failed to stop the inequality of
opportunity between towns and cities in the North and those in the
South East increasing.
regeneration policies mean that poorer towns will continue to get
poorer relative to the rest of the country. Children growing up in them
will not have the same experiences – and perhaps not even the same
expectations and aspirations – as those living in places that are more
typical of Britain. Adults looking for work will not have the same
opportunities as those who, with the same skills and determination, are
simply lucky enough to be in a different part of our country.
Geographical circumstance means that a life on benefits, whether in
work, or out of work, will be more common in regeneration towns.
Policy Exchange has previously analysed domestic and international urban regeneration policies:
demonstrated that attempts to regenerate British cities over the past
ten, twenty or even fifty years have failed. The gap between struggling
and average cities, let alone between struggling and affluent cities,
has continued to rise. Geographical inequality is growing.
Success and the City, examined experiences abroad and the lessons other countries can teach British policymakers.
their new report in the series on regeneration in the UK, Cities
Unlimited, Dr Tim Leunig and James Swaffield recommend a series of
radical proposals that would reverse the trend and inject much needed
momentum back into regeneration policy.
The key recommendations from the report are:
increase the size of London by allowing landowners the right to convert
industrial land into residential land in areas of above average
employment. If only half of the 10,000 hectares earmarked as industrial
land in London and the South East were used for housing, £25 billion in
value would be created and half a million people would be able to move
to an area that offers much better prospects than where they live now.
dramatically expand Oxford and Cambridge, just as Liverpool and
Manchester expanded in the 19th century. Research has shown that cities
based on highly skilled workers are the most dynamic. Oxford and
Cambridge offer the best opportunities for successful expansion.
government should roll-up current regeneration funding streams and
allocate the money to local authorities. Under these proposals it would
be for local authorities to assess the opportunities, devise a plan for
their area and implement it. They would be answerable not to central
government, but to local people.
report reaffirms Policy Exchange’s long-standing commitment to
localism. All towns and cities should have the right to determine their
own policies; and their local councils should be assessed regularly and
accurately, and the results of such assessment explained to local
responsibility and accountability are the keys to unlocking the
potential that exists in our towns and cities. This is the message of