Fast Growth Cities — 2021 and beyond

This report investigates the development of the Fast Growth Cities, shining a light on the additional challenges this group has faced due to the pandemic and exploring how best to unlock their further growth and future success.

Report published on 5 March 2021 by Kathrin Enenkel and Tom Sells

The Fast Growth Cities group, comprising Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Oxford, Peterborough and Swindon encompasses some of the most successful and innovative places in the UK.

This report provides an update to original research conducted by Centre for Cities in 2016, which identified the opportunities and challenges faced by the FGC group and their positioning in the UK economy.

Five years on, this new research looks at the cities’ development within the context of the pandemic and outlines how an increase in investment can unlock their further growth and future success.

The report focuses on six key areas: labour markets, skills and education; business and growth; high streets and city centres; housing and planning; transport; and the economic impact of the pandemic.

It explores:

Fast Growth Cities before the pandemic

In recent years, all Fast Growth Cities have made strong commitments to supporting further growth, but they face different barriers to their continued success such rising housing unaffordability and skills shortages. These barriers underline the case for further investment.

The impact of the pandemic on Fast Growth Cities

The FGCs entered the pandemic in a stronger position than many other cities in the UK. The challenge they now face is to weather the storm of Covid-19, offsetting the impact on longer-term growth prospects, while addressing other potential limitations on growth that existed previously.

What needs to change

Investment in and government support for the FGCs must focus first on economic recovery and directly addressing the impact of the pandemic. In the long-term, support will need to address the fundamental barriers to the cities’ continued prosperity in areas such as skills and education, productivity, infrastructure and housing.

Press coverage

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