City regions are nothing new…

City regions have dominated regional planning and policy discussion in south Wales recently.

For instance, given Cardiff/Caerdydd‘s lack of available housing land it will be increasingly reliant on being able to rapidly and efficiently transport workers from its hinterland via a light rail system.

The Welsh Government, too, is in on the act. It recently asked a Task and Finish Group on city regions to determine:

“whether a city region approach appeared likely to deliver more jobs and greater prosperity in and for Wales than current approaches to economic development”

It concluded that Cardiff/Caerdydd and Swansea Bay/Bae Abertawe city regions would improve the contribution to the Welsh economy from these cities that presently is inferior to that of other UK cities.

The current Welsh city region zeitgeist has captured the imagination of those in the north as well with a cross-border city region encompassing north east Wales recently being floated.

There is, however, reticence of a city region that ends up being all about the city and less about the region. In respect of the NE Wales idea there are those that see it as culturally regressive, irrespective of the economic benefits, that could result in the ‘Chesterfication’ of NE Wales.

For all its current prominence the concept really is nothing new. Indeed, in Cardiff itself academics like Phillip Cooke and Kevin Morgan have long been advocating city regions. The concept appears to get a new lease of life every ten to twelve years, before slumbering back into quiescence.

But next time you hear about a Cardiff/Caerdydd (or anywhere else in Wales) city region and snake oil sellers advocating it as a 21st Century answer for regional economic tupor consider that the book below was first published in 1947….


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