Regenerating Medium-Sized Cities

Project Leader: Philip Catney


The aim of this ESRC-funded seminar series was to foster debate and research concerning the regeneration of medium-sized post-industrial cities in England. While considerable academic attention has been focused on the role of 'world' and 'global' cities in national and international economies and the social challenges they face, a similar degree of systematic analysis has not been afforded to medium-sized  post-industrial cities.

Yet these cities have over the past three decades experienced a  a transformation in their economic and social base. Where once their economies were defined almost exclusively by manufacturing and/or mineral extraction, they have had to diversify their economies through the development of knowledge-intensive and service-based industries.  

This transformation has led to a wider reconsideration of the economic potential of cities by academics and practitioners alike. Increasingly, cities are conceived as more than simply 'problem spaces' but as possessing significant assets  that contribute to broader processes of economic development . This recognition of cities as important sites of economic development has led to increased policy emphasis on encouraging localities to further develop and better utilise the assets that they possess for growth.

Yet, growth has not been experienced evenly across, or even within, cities. As the 2006 State of the English Cities Report made clear, the sustained growth of the UK economy over a decade and a half period was more evident in some  locations than in others. While large cites such as Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield  experienced significant  regeneration  over this period, this was much less true of  medium-sized cities, particularly post-industrial ones. This divergence occurred in a period of substantial economic growth; given the present period of recession, the gap is likely to increase.

The seminar series considered the general factors reshaping the economic base of medium-sized cities together with the various strategies adopted for achieving regeneration. It also examined the  social challenges affecting medium-sized  cities. In particular, the series will examine the changing demographic nature of these cities, with ageing populations one element, inequalities between social groups, high levels of population turnover, and growing ethnic diversity.

A list of the participants in series can be found here .

For further information on this series, please contact Philip: