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Inquiry launched into UK’s regional inequalities

Words: Laura Edgar
UK regional inequalities / iStock-953156838

Former head of the civil service Lord Kerslake will chair an independent commission to investigate the UK’s regional inequalities.

The UK2070 Commission was launched today at a reception in the House of Lords.

List of UK2070 Commission members:

  • Lord Kerslake, chair
  • Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and chair of the Core Cities UK Network
  • Gillian Bristow, professor in economic geography at Cardiff University
  • Armando Carbonell, chair of the urban planning program at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Jagjit Chadha, director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR)
  • Ed Cox, director of public services and communities within the Action Research Centre of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
  • Emma Degg, chief executive of the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT).
  • Trudi Elliott, chairs the Board of the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales
  • Julia Goldsworthy, director of strategy for the West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Andrew Jones, leads both AECOM’s design planning + economics team and cities programmes
  • Anna Leach, head of economic intelligence at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
  • Sarah Longlands, director of IPPR North
  • Philip McCann, chair of urban & regional economics, University of Sheffield
  • Graeme Purves, former assistant chief planner with the Scottish Government
  • Alasdair Rae, professorial fellow, urban studies and planning at the University of Sheffield
  • Mark Sitch, senior planning partner at Barton Willmore LLP
  • Hugh Sykes, international industrialist and investor, former chairman of the Sheffield Development Corporation.
  • John Tomaney, professor of urban and regional planning in the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
  • Phil Williams, first director of planning and place, Belfast City
  • Cecilia Wong, professor of spatial planning at Manchester Urban Institute

The inquiry will examine the nature of inequalities across the regions and nations of the UK, considering the costs and consequences, and identifying underlying causes. It is expected to make recommendations for new policies to tackle problems of poorer places and some to support the sustainable growth of successful places.

Members on the commission include academics; the USA’s Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, which is helping to fund the study; IPPR North, Barton Willmore; and the Planning Inspectorate.

The members will be supported by a research partnership involving the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield and University College London (UCL), with additional support from the Heseltine Institute at the University of Liverpool, and the University of Cambridge.

Lord Kerslake said: “There will always be differences between places. But Britain has some of the most extreme regional disparities in the developed world and these impose great costs on society and handicap our economic performance and productivity. It does not have to be like this – as many other countries demonstrate.”

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and chair of Core Cities, added: “In part, the problems are caused by historic factors. But we need to find out whether they are also shaped by government decisions which have not been thought through, concentrating resources for growth and development in already successful and congested places and generating demands for new infrastructure, whilst putting pressure on the environment.”

Mark Sitch, senior partner at Barton Willmore told The Planner: “For the UK 2070 Commission and the country as a whole to make inroads in to the regional inequalities that exist, we must plan better, and we must do it at a national level with cross-party support that goes beyond the four-year political cycle.

“We believe we can achieve a plan for growth by removing the geographical boundaries, creating a National Spatial Framework with infrastructure investment at the heart. In doing this we could unlock housing, employment, education opportunities in the locations where they are needed to create healthy, sustainable, accessible and thriving places for all.”

Image credit | iStock