Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM)
- Professor James Simmie (Department of Planning), OISD: IAU
- Dr Juliet Carpenter (Department of Planning), OISD: UPM
- Andrew Chadwick (Department of Planning), OISD: IAU
- Professor Ron Martin (Department of Geography, University of Cambridge)
- Professor Peter Wood (Department of Geography, UCL)
- total grant value: £83,500
- time duration: May 2004 November 2005
produce a statement setting out the importance of cultural facilities and activities to the region;
propose a themed set of principles to underpin development of the regional cultural infrastructure, for discussion and debate;
propose principles for and approaches to cultural provision at sub-regional level, for discussion and debate;
consult with the regional cultural agencies, lottery distributors and a sample of local authorities to identify existing facility databases and to ascertain perceived gaps in cultural provision at sub-regional and regional level;
The overall aim of the study was to assess the economic competitive performance of urban areas in England, and to analyse public policies in the light of their potential role in promoting economic performance.
The research was one of the thematic reports that fed into the wider "State of the English Cities" report, commissioned by ODPM, which drew on thematic reports relating to demography, social cohesion, liveability as well as the economic performance of English cities.
The study took as its starting point the six main theories that provide the basis for understanding the economies of cities: the tradable economic base, increasing returns and agglomeration economies, knowledge and innovation, clusters, the cultural economy, and the evolution of urban economies. The first five of these theories tend to adopt a static analysis of urban competitive advantage, with little acknowledgement of change over time. In this report, we argue that changes in dynamic competitiveness over time are the key to understanding the economic positions that cities find themselves in. Therefore, the study took insights from the first five theories, whilst being based in the wider context of the sixth theory, that of evolutionary economic theory.
From these theoretical perspectives, the research examined the changes taking place over time in the 56 Travel to Work Areas (TTWAs) in England with urban cores containing populations of 125,000 or more at the time of the 2001 census. Some 50 different indicators were analysed, mostly relating to the 1990s and early 2000s.
The changes illustrated by the data were explored more fully by taking four case studies that examined the economies of London, Cambridge, Derby and Sheffield. These used a combination of secondary sources and qualitative interviews with elite decision makers, exploring the forces making for change and continuity in each city.
The research showed that for some time, urban cores in England had been diverging economically with significant differences between groups of more successful cities located in and around the Greater South East and groups of less successful cities mainly concentrated north of Derby, and in poorly connected and more peripheral cities in the East and South.
A series of six key drivers were found to affect economic performance: innovation/creativity, investment, human capital, economic specialisation (clustered diversity), connectivity, and decision-making. Quality of life was not found to be a key driver of urban economic competitiveness.
The four case studies demonstrated the importance of local adaptive capacity, learning, knowledge and innovation in the face of external economic and political changes over which individual cities do not have direct control.
In terms of policy implications, the research highlights the need for central government policies and mainstream funding to be aware of their spatial consequences. In particular, priority should be given to improving the economic fundamentals of urban economies: that is, the business environment, the education base, physical infrastructure and connectivity, social/cultural infrastructure and networks, and governance structures.
- Simmie, J., Carpenter, J., Chadwick, A., Martin, R. and Wood P (2006) The Economic Performance of English Cities, London, ODPM
Download this document in PDF format.
- Parkinson, M. et al (2006) The State of English Cities Vols. 1 and 2, London, ODPM
- Simmie J and Carpenter J (2008) Towards an Evolutionary and Endogenous Growth Theory Explanation of Why Regional and Urban Economies in England are Diverging, Planning Practice and Research, 23, 1, pp. 101-124.
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