The Northern Powerhouse Meets the Cities and Local Growth Agenda: Local Economic Policymaking and Agglomeration in Practice

Springer Nature
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Developing England’s North. Building a Sustainable Political Economy, 2018, pp. 141 - 164
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A policy canon has emerged over recent years which contends that decentralised arrangements are a primary means to address long-standing spatial inequalities. This new conventional wisdom, which frequently portrays cities and metropolitan areas as ‘economic engines’, has gained substantial national and international traction. Often encapsulated by the UK Government’s amorphous Cities and Local Growth agenda, but sometimes positioned as a standalone approach, the Northern Powerhouse is the most high-profile policy episode in a fast-developing story of decentralisation in pursuit of (city-centric) economic growth. This chapter draws upon empirical work to consider whether the current approach to subnational development represents a serious, coherent and sustained attempt to begin to close the economic gap between the North and the South. We examine the evolution of Cities and Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse in the context of current debates around agglomeration economics, looking specifically at ambiguities of scale around the Northern Powerhouse, the kind of policies emergent at the local level, and local perceptions of central government intentions for subnational development policy.
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