City-regions: Emerging lessons from England

The World Bank's Urban Development Unit has launched a new Issues Note Series - DIRECTIONS in Urban Development - with a paper on City Regions by Kieran Larkin and Adam Marshall.

Report published on 9 October 2008 by Kieran Larkin

The emergence of city-regions in England offers some useful lessons for World Bank partners in developing countries. The City-Region approach, as applied in England touches upon issues of decentralisation, intergovernmental fiscal relations, governance, and the need to realign outdated administrative arrangements with a metropolitan area’s economic footprint, among other highly relevant topics for rapidly urbanizing cities in developing countries.

As a concept, City-regions are designed to promote cross-boundary collaboration across large urban areas. They aim to facilitate horizontal and vertical co-ordination between multiple jurisdictions. They advance the concept of an appropriate spatial scale for economic development functions such as transport, housing and training. They capture urban hinterlands, as well as core cities.

This note explains 1) the emergence of city-regions in England, 2) the current policy framework in England, 3) a case study of Greater Manchester, 4) City-Region Contracts as a policy tool to codify intergovernmental institutional arrangements, and 5) transferable lessons.