A focus upon place is integral to effective public policy: where people live and work determines how policies affect them and what policies might deliver better results.

Are cities, with their significant inequalities, the drivers of economic growth for the foreseeable future? Are profound spatial inequalities unavoidable given the agglomeration effects associated with technological innovation and economic change? Does a place-based approach to policy mean that more funding and attention should be directed to towns and rural areas? Should policy decision making be more decentralised to respond to place-based concerns?

Our Place programme includes these projects:

The Measuring Social and Cultural Infrastructure project, funded by The British Academy, is researching how to better understand how social and cultural infrastructure can be measured to improve understanding of its purpose, presence, scale and value. It will consider strategies for presenting these measurements in an accessible way to allow for a clear understanding that can inform effective policymaking.

A Review of the UK Constitution, in partnership with the Institute for Government, is assessing the current state of the UK constitution – probing how well some of its core institutions and democratic processes are performing – to improve the way that government works.

The left-behind across Europe, led by Davide Luca, is a data-driven analysis of some of the political consequences of the geographical inequalities that have been opening up across most advanced economies, and asks whether public policies aimed at fostering agglomeration economies in large cities have contributed to the rise of political disenchantment and the growth of populism.

In our Place-based Industrial Strategies project, we are working with policy-makers in the UK government and in some of the new Combined Authorities, including the Greater Manchester Authority, to explore different ways in which central, devolved and local governments can respond to the challenges posed by regional inequality and stalling productivity. 

Our Townscapes project offers an in-depth examination of the economic fortunes and public service footprint of towns across the nations and regions of Britain.

Our ‘Levelling Up’ blog series explores issues relating to the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. The series looks at the role of infrastructure, the importance of data and measurement, the relationship between trust, social capital and levelling up, and the impact of a transition to a net zero carbon economy on left-behind places. We will also look outside of the UK for examples of how other countries have managed regional inequalities.

This programme also encompasses Between Two Unions, a major research project funded by the ESRC, which seeks to understand the implications of Brexit for the territorial governance of the UK.

Back to Top