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Government urged to help struggling towns secure jobs and homes

Words: Huw Morris

Government policy for jobs and housing should embrace striving towns and communities and not exclusively pursue growth in the big cities, a conference heard today.

Professor Andy Pike, director of Newcastle University’s Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, said the government must adopt a new approach, underpinned by greater devolution, with regeneration tailored to specific areas.

“Too many places have been left behind by the push for urban prosperity,” he told a Town and Country Planning Association conference.

“The UK has been wrestling with entrenched and persistent geographical inequalities for decades and has amongst the highest levels internationally

“The position is worsening with polarisation increasing between prosperous and less prosperous places.” 

Alasdair Rae, a professor in urban studies and planning at Sheffield University, said a majority of the country’s most deprived neighbourhoods are in the North, many of them outside major cities.

“They have been left in a kind of policy limbo since 2010 when areas-based urban policy programmes ended, yet they have never recovered from the waves of de-industrialisation of the 1970s and 1980s,” he added. “Now, more than ever, action is needed. We need a catalyst for action and a counterweight to London.”

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