Dave Valler, Reader in Planning, School of the Built Environment at the Oxford Brookes University in Oxford is the Chair of the RSA London and South East Branch.

Please feel free to contact Dave to discuss regional studies in the London and South East area.


Welcome note from the Chair

Hi there. I’m Dave Valler, Reader in Planning in the School of the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes University.

It’s an honour to take up the Chair of the RSA London and South East Branch and I look forward to meeting and working with colleagues within and outside the area.

It’s a fascinating time, not least against the backdrop of ongoing Brexit negotiations, Heathrow expansion and the proposed development of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, so we will aim to deliver an exciting programme of activities commencing from Spring 2020.

My research interests range across several themes, including local and regional economic development, urban theory and politics, sub-national governance and policy, and science/hi-tech spaces. I’ve undertaken research specifically on theoretical and practical planning and governance issues in the South East including questions of urban political dissonance (Territory, Politics, Governance 2018), local planning cultures and legacies (Planning Theory and Practice 2018), economic governance evaluation (Town Planning Review 2016), and planning for high-tech growth (Environment and Planning C 2014; Town Planning Review 2012). I am currently extending this work through a small scale pilot project on ‘comparative planning for growth’ looking at planning and governance processes in the Oxford and Stuttgart city-regions.

Please do feel free to contact me at any time – I look forward to hearing from you!


Upcoming Conference

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Oxford-Cambridge Arc: Critical Themes in Governance, Planning and Place-making

 Academic-Policy Workshop, Oxford Brookes University, Friday 24th April 2020, 9.30-5.30

Supported by:

Regional Studies Association

Academy of Urbanism

Oxford Brookes University

Arc Universities Group

This academic-policy workshop will examine the progress to date of the UK Government’s ambition to establish the Oxford-Cambridge Arc as an integrated, knowledge-intensive corridor vital to the future of the UK economy. Abstracts (250 words) are invited across a variety of critical themes around governance, planning and place-making, reflecting both on emerging academic research in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and from related issues and cases elsewhere. The following themes are suggested (though potential contributors in related fields are encouraged to liaise with the conference organisers):


– Territory, politics and planning; Governing polycentric regional development; Strategic spatial planning; ‘Corridor’ planning and development; Major and sub-regional infrastructure planning, finance and delivery; Interstitial spaces: planning and designing ‘in-between’; Constructing spatial imaginaries.

– Place-making; Sustainable urban design; Housing policy, politics and planning; Urban mobilities; Healthy cities; Urban and rural heritage and conservation.

– Natural capital investment planning; Regional ecosystem governance and management; Strategic environmental impact assessment; Flood risk and water resource impacts

– Universities and regional development; Planning and developing high-tech spaces.


Along with representation from wide-ranging academic disciplines, keynote presentations are invited from the National Infrastructure Commission and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge Corridor. Additional policy interests include the UK Government Cities and Local Growth Unit, East-West Rail, Highways England, England’s Economic Heartland partnership, local authorities and the corridor universities.


Abstracts are requested for end-Jan 2020. The workshop is free to contributors and attendees, and some limited funding may be available to support travel costs for PhD students. It is anticipated that selected papers will form the basis of a special edition of a journal such as Regional Studies. Contributors are welcome to contact the conference organisers to discuss potential submissions ( and


Regional Studies in London and the South-East

In 2016, London had the highest GVA per capita in the UK, 76% above the UK average and more than double that of 7 of the remaining 11 regions and countries of the UK. London and the South-East has long been the UK’s dominant competitive region, with global concentrations of financial, professional and business services, media, telecoms, science and high-tech activities, and major multi-national headquarters. However, while London’s economy has been pulling further away from the rest of the UK the picture across the wider region is rather more complex and dynamic than is often perceived, with significant variations across the south east as a whole and also the recent (re-)emergence of competitive city regions around the UK’s four capital cities and other major urban centres.

Though London and its extensive hinterland represent the core of the UK economy, the governance of this global city-region has been problematical. As members of the London and Wider South East Strategic Planning Network have argued (see Bowie, 2018), the planning of London has to take into account the relation of London to its hinterland, while strategic planning in the Wider South East has to have regard to London. Yet the Greater London Authority and London Assembly and Mayor remain as the only ‘regional’ body after regional governance was removed in England after 2010, though this more tightly bounded structure produces a clear territorial discrepancy between the metropolitan core and the wider south-east region. Along with the revocation of regional plans and strategic planning structures for the South East and the East of England regions, and in the absence of previous large-scale regional planning fora such as SERPLAN (The London and South East Regional Planning Conference, which ran from the early 1960s until 2000) these problems have been compounded. For some, the case for a higher level, more coordinated, accountable approach is now ‘overwhelming’ (UK 2070).

In May 2019 the first report of the UK2070 Commission estimated that more than half of new jobs over the period may go to London and the South East, though it currently makes up just over a third of the population. This will reinforce pressures on environmental conditions, living costs and soft and hard infrastructural resources. In this context, new major infrastructure developments, new industrial and technological formations, altered governance structures and sharpened political and environmental debates will all be implicated. The Regional Studies community has a major role to play in these issues and debates, and we look forward to engaging with you.


Recent Publications

Please note: The London and South East Branch is a limited agent for the Regional Studies Association but without any authority to incur financial liability for that Association.