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 challenging time, not least against the backdrop of Covid-19, Brexit, Heathrow expansion and the proposed development of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, so we hope to create some stimulating discussion around these themes and more.
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.
Below is some information about Regional Studies in London and the South East which you might find interesting. You might also like to read my blog posts on The Death of Local Democracy Oxfordshire Style and Realising the Potential of London and the Wider South East.
Please do feel free to contact me at any time – I look forward to hearing from you!
RSA 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.
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.