Urban economics

Is the Green Belt sacred?

The ‘green belt' description has elevated imagination over reality in Britain's planning system. To the public, the areas it refers to seem to be much needed reserves of nature in an overcrowded, concrete Britain. They are, or at least they are believed to be, the last remnants of what was once England's green and pleasant land. To say anything against the concept of the green belt thus seems to smack of treachery. But we need some hard-headed thought about why and how we protect land from the development we need. [...]

Parting shot

Britain is one of the most expensive countries on the planet and London its rip-off capital. Filling your car, eating out, staying at a hotel or just doing the weekly shopping are all more costly undertakings than in other industrialised countries around the globe – even without taking house prices into account. [...]

Urban regeneration isn’t working (but it can be better)

Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich is Chief Economist at Policy Exchange although he's about to emigrate for a new think tank appointment in Australia. In this Platform he explains the argument of the urban regeneration paper that he edited and that caused such a storm earlier this week. [...]

Cities Unlimited

A decade of regeneration policies has failed to stop the inequality of opportunity between towns and cities in the North and those in the South East increasing. In their third report in the series on regeneration in the UK, Cities Unlimited, Tim Leunig and James Swaffield recommend a series of radical proposals that would reverse the trend and inject a much needed momentum back into regeneration policy. The key recommendations from the report are to increase the size of London by allowing landowners the right to convert industrial land into residential land in areas of above average employment; expand Oxford and Cambridge dramatically, just as Liverpool and Manchester expanded in the 19th century and for the Government to roll up current regeneration funding streams and allocate the money direct to local authorities. [...]

Mind the Gap – Assessing UK regeneration policy

The regeneration of entire cities, and even regions, is one of the most ambitious objectives of public sector action. It requires picking through large-scale social and economic trends and reversing the effects of anything up to several decades of decline. James Swaffield and Oliver Marc Hartwich, from the think-tank Policy Exchange, argue that the results are not as impressive as many people have thought – and that we may need to start using a new set of policies. [...]

Success and the city – Learning from international urban policies

Regeneration, and urban policy more widely, are worldwide issues. Many cities around the globe face similar issues to British cities - bringing business in, developing labour markets, addressing poverty and segregation, and encouraging people to migrate back to the city. Learning from this wealth of international experience is critical to improving the design, delivery and success of policy in the UK. [...]

Cities limited

British towns and cities in receipt of substantial urban policy funding designed to bring them up to the economic standard nationally are, in fact, declining when judged by a whole range of indices. That is the worrying conclusion of Cities Limited which calls into question the value of the plethora of urban regeneration schemes delivered by a myriad of different agencies. Spending on the 14 core urban regeneration schemes in the last decade totals £30bn of public money. [...]

Unaffordable Housing – Fables and Myths

Britain’s Soviet-style planning system means that we live in some of the smallest, oldest and costliest homes in the developed world. But is this the housing we want? Unaffordable Housing is the first of a three-part series of pamphlets investigating the causes of, and solutions to, Britain’s housing shortage. Alan W. Evans and Oliver Marc Hartwich ask how Britain's housing has become the laughing stock of Western Europe. [...]