Publication: Strategic leadership and planning in a localist agenda: lessons from the north west of England
Following the 2010 election, the new Coalition government in the UK abolished the English regional (planning and development) institutions and their strategies, establishing business-led bodies of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) at the city regional scale, and a cross-local authority ‘Duty-to- Cooperate’ to feed in informal strategies and deliver projects around cross-boundary issues such as housing, transport, the environment, and strategic sites. Given the non-statutory status of the LEPs and the loose framework for the Duty to Cooperate, this paper draws on empirical case study research undertaken by the authors in three city-regions of North West England to investigate whether strategic spatial priorities can be effectively planned and delivered under this highly neo-liberalised and localised system. In other words, it asks whether strategic thinking can still take place in a weak strategic / sub-regional environment. In examining the inclination and ability of LEPs for spatial governance, we identified three typologies of their roles in the city-regions studied: ‘expedient leader’, ‘ambitious mediator’, and ‘political and functional rival’. These findings, along with those of the Duty-to-Cooperate in cross-local consensus building and delivery, result in lessons about building corporatist institutions of strategic governance as well as the institutional and legislative contexts of ‘bottom-up’ strategic planning.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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