Barber, A. and Hall, S.
Birmingham: Whose urban renaissance? Regeneration as a response to economic restructuring.
Policy Studies, 29 (3).
Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01442870802159871
This paper draws together two traditionally distinct discourses that have dominated debate about urban policy responses to economic restructuring, de-industrialisation, major plant closures and the rise of the service and knowledge-based economy over the past 20 years.
It investigates the case of Birmingham, where the policy drive of city centre regeneration, flagship development and the re-making of central urban space for new economic activities has been accompanied by much acclaim and boosterist hype. At the same time, the socio-spatial impact of economic restructuring and the resulting policy response has been extremely uneven. The economic difficulties and wider disadvantage experienced by much of the city’s population and many of its neighbourhoods, especially those inner city areas with large ethnic minority populations, have endured and even deepened since the early 1990s despite the efforts of numerous area-based regeneration programmes funded by central government.
The paper reflects upon this dual narrative by asking the question whose urban renaissance? From this study it clear that the dominant of the boosterist discourse is significantly tempered by the uneven and enduring socio-economic divides within the city and the partial nature of the city’s overall recovery, particularly in terms of providing employment for its residents. In this sense, significant policy challenges remain despite the clear achievements of the past 20 years. The paper concludes by considering new spatial policy approaches that could bind together the dual imperatives of creating new economic opportunities, and addressing aspects of acute need among the local population.
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