Market forces leave fringe regions stranded

Market forces are leading to the creation of dominant regional cities with little economic benefit enjoyed outside of central metropolitan areas, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

At the first of a series of fringe meetings taking place at the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative Party conferences, RICS called for attention to be directed to devising ways in which both the whole city and region can share in improvements.

Nigel Smith, chair of the RICS regeneration panel says: “Big changes can be seen in city centres such as Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Nottingham, but there is little evidence that the benefits enjoyed in small central areas are spreading out to the rest of the city, let alone the region.

“Iconic developments such as the Harvey Nichols store in Leeds, or the Lowry Centre in Salford, improve the image of the city but hold little relevance for the majority of the local population.

“Although we all welcome the economic and physical changes in these major conurbations, the big challenge now is to devise ways in which we can more evenly share the benefits the whole of a city and region.

Smith adds: “At a time when the Government is developing a more city-centric policy, it is important we learn the lessons of the past.”

“Two years ago RICS outlined the three key issues we must address if we are serious about achieving successful transformations. Today these issues are being recognised as the essential components of regeneration strategy.

“First we must grasp the nettle of citywide strategies not just the centre. Secondly we need to take seriously the needs of everyone – not just the high flyers and the big spenders. Thirdly we need to move joined up thinking from our municipal authorities, if we are serious about long-term sustainability.’