In this report two of the UK’s leading experts in cities policy, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Minister for Cities and Greg Clark, global cities advisor, document the emergence of a new phase in global cities policy.
From the 1970s onwards, with the rapid decline of many of the industries on which developed cities had long depended, Western governments tended to focus on centrally funded programmes aimed at arresting decline and regenerating run down areas. However, as national and state-level governments show a growing appreciation of the economic importance of their cities, so they are taking a more strategic approach to their development. We are seeing more and more examples of governments from around the globe focusing on ‘city systems’ and providing a strong national platform for city development – infrastructure investment, macro-economic policy, tax and regulatory reform – whilst devolving power and responsibility to cities themselves. The approach taken by the UK’s Coalition government are in many respects a good illustration of this new phase in public policy, encouraging cross-departmental coordination on city issues and investing in infrastructure projects that will connect cities, while negotiating ‘deals’ with individual cities that will result in a fundamental shift in the balance of power from national to city government.