The UK2070 Commission is an independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the United Kingdom. Chaired by Lord Kerslake, it has been set up to conduct a review of the policy and spatial issues related to the UK’s long-term city and regional development.
The Commission will run in three phases, from July 2018 to January 2020, with a formal launch event having been held at the House of Lords in October 2018. The Commission’s activities will be in four phases: initial technical work and evidence gathering; a deliberative phase; consultation on the draft report and lastly finalising the report, along with both wider consultation and dissemination. The key events will be:
- Formal launch at the House of Lords (October 9th 2018)
- Stage 1 Report highlighting issues, options and with provisional recommendations (May 2019)
- The Final Report (January 2020)
The UK2070 Commission was established by a partnership between the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield and University College London; with generous help from the Sir Hugh and Lady Sykes Charitable Trust in collaboration with both the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (the RSA) and the Common Futures Network; along with additional project management and facilitation support provided by Turner & Townsend.
The Commission’s work is underpinned by the generous contributions of time, effort and resources by the Commissioners and their respective organisations. This includes support for specific programme activities by AECOM; Barton Willmore LLP; the Confederation of British Industry, Cardiff University; the Institute for Public Policy Research; Leeds City Council; the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, North West Business Leadership Team and the West Midlands Combined Authority.
The persistent inequalities between the cities and regions of the nation need to be challenged. Cities and regions are increasingly taking ownership of this challenge through the devolution agenda, yet deeper structural inequalities cannot be tackled by local action alone. A national framework is needed.
This need is heightened by the political and economic uncertainties brought by Brexit and the global challenges of technological and climate change. A sustainable and people-centred approach to urban and regional development in the UK is needed to provide a clearer vision of their common future. With the publication of the National Infrastructure Plan, the Industrial Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan; it is critical that we understand how these plans and activities will be coordinated to maximise the benefits across different parts of the UK.
The UK2070 Commission will therefore set out an indicative framework for city and regional development which:
- Illuminates the imbalances in the nature of economic activity, including patterns of investment, wealth, taxation and public expenditure, and the related social and environmental conditions across the nation;
- Illustrates the potential of national spatial economic frameworks which enable and support local action and priorities; and
- Identifies the range of policy interventions needed to address regional imbalances, including governance and fiscal instruments such as local taxation, land value capture and intergovernmental transfers.
The reference to 2070 is an explicit recognition that the timescales for successful city and regional development are often very long, in contrast the short-termism of political cycles.
For example, The County Surveyors Advisory Motorway Plan was produced in May 1938 and substantially implemented by the mid-1980s (47 years later). Meanwhile, Development Corporations for the New Towns were formally proposed by Lord Reith in 1945; and Warrington, a child of the 1968 Act, is still implementing the master plan 73 years later. Similarly, Sir Edward Watkin began excavating a Channel Tunnel in 1880 and the St Pancras International terminal of High Speed 1 opened in 2007 (127 years later); while construction of the UK’s trunk railway system started in 1830 and only ended in 1899, some 69 years later. There are indeed many more examples from the history of urban and regional development in the UK.
So, when it comes to big infrastructure and institutions, 50 years seems modest, but sometimes the UK does indeed plan on this timescale – though admittedly Whitehall has done so relatively rarely.
If the Commission is to be successful in bringing about a new framework for city and regional development that can actually be realised, we need to think long-term.
The Aims of the Commission
The UK2070 Commission aims to:
- Reinforce the devolution agenda for cities, regions and nations to maximise their potential for sustainable and inclusive growth;
- Add value to the emerging range of national strategies for planning, housing, industry, land use, environment and infrastructure – through greater integration and clarity in their place-based implications;
- Develop more inclusive and empowering approaches to national and strategic decision-making; and investment for regions, cities, towns and communities; and
- Draw on UK and international experience in tackling issues of spatial inequalities.