Date and location

  •   May 20, 2015 - May 20, 2015
  •   Manchester University, Humanities, Bridgeford Street Building Room 1.69/1.70

Conference details

Structure of the Conference

10:30                 Arrival, provision of tea/coffee

Morning session – National perspective with presentations and roundtable

11:00                 Andy Pike and Ron Martin (tbc): Spatially rebalancing the UK economy: the need for a new policy model

11:20                 Vincent Goodstadt: Delivering an effective spatial policy – implications for the planning system

11:40                 Diane Coyle: Why the market economy delivers regionally unbalanced growth and why it matters

12:00                 Roundtable discussion

13:00                 Lunch

Afternoon session – Spatial inequalities in Greater Manchester and the wider region

14:00                 Ruth Lupton: Introduction of Just GM

14:10                 Cecilia Wong and Moozhan Shakeri: Spatial Inequality of local development over time and across Greater Manchester

14:30                 Iain Deas and Seyedehsomayeh Moosavi: Case study of two GM neighbourhoods

14:50                 Andreas Schulze Bäing and Sebastian Dembski: Spatial inequality in the wider NW region – the case of St Helens

15:10                 Tea break

15:20                 Roundtable discussion

15:50                 Conclusion and closing of the day



Britain’s experience of urban policy extends over a period of nearly 50 years. While much has been learnt over that time about the generic principles that underlie successful policy intervention, challenges remain in many cities. The recent surge of interest in city-regions is connected in part to the continuing challenge presented by the unbalanced spatial patterning of development across the UK. Recognition of the potential for new city-regional governance structures to correct spatial imbalances in Britain’s economy has been important, but there are continuing issues confronting urban policy:

Evidence that social polarisation has increased within some major cities, even where economic circumstances have improved.
The fortunes of smaller ex-industrial places such as Stoke, the Colne Valley, seaside towns, cul-de-sac towns continue to struggle with a legacy of long-term economic decline and attendant social problems.
Interregional economic disparities, linked to the London-centric nature of decision-making and the concentration of economic power in the capital, have been thrown into sharper focus by proposals for further devolution to Scotland.
Major infrastructure investment can provide transformative effects, but may further reinforce agglomerative growth in London and the South East at the expense of other regions.
There is a growing crisis about housing shortages (but almost entirely in London and the South East), though housing affordability is a concern across the country.

Responding to these issues raises further challenges. Different places have variable capacity to respond to harness opportunities or combat existing problems. Whilst central government prioritises economic growth, there is a need to consider the social and environmental consequences of new development – not only in cities but in their wider hinterlands. Debate is now beginning to emerge about alternative approaches to urban development, some of which challenge established thinking about spatial agglomeration model of growth and the need to facilitate further growth in the London region.

As new investment linked to infrastructure and scientific research begin to impact on cities like Manchester, and as innovation around city-regional governance continues via more reforms to local government finance and the planned election of a mayor, Greater Manchester provides an interesting case though which to explore how best to manage the spatial patterning of development and address socio-spatial inequalities.

Structure of the Conference
It is our intention to run the conference in two parts: Roundtable (11:00-13:00), Lunch (13:00-14:00), Greater Manchester session (14:00-15:45), Conclusion (15:45-16:00)

(1) A morning roundtable session – funded by Cities@Manchester – to discuss the macro issues of national urban policy and planning models, the prospects for spatial re-balancing and the role of city-regions. This goes back to the work of Patrick Geddes and Lewis Mumford. It is useful to reconsider the origin and evolution of the city-region (and regional-city) concept, and planning’s role within it. This can then lead onto debate around current thinking and experience of city-regional governance to date. We envisage a round table of 20 invited participants.

(2) An afternoon session – funded by Just GM project – to discuss the challenge of spatial inequalities in Greater Manchester, and the role of the city-region in addressing them. The session will also consider the role of Greater Manchester in terms of wider spatial re-balancing between the North and London/SE. There will be four presentations of 20 minutes each, followed by a 30 minutes panel discussion session.

How to get there

Manchester University, Humanities, Bridgeford Street Building Room 1.69/1.70