Cities across the UK are finding new ways to work with partners to harness their public and private assets in order to shape economic development. From taking advantage of ducting networks in Bristol to going into partnership with developers on dozens of sites around London both to build homes and fund the transport network, cities are using their assets, with the input of external expertise, to improve the opportunities and prosperity of their residents.

For any city looking to make the most out of its assets by working across public and private boundaries, overlooking any of the five recommendations outlined in this report limits the potential returns, economic and financial, of any partnership:

  1. Know your assets and share that knowledge
  2. Have a clear sense of how assets can help deliver your economic vision
  3. Have a commercial mindset when thinking about the value and potential of public assets
  4. Provide adequate resources and tools to ensure success of asset-backed collaborations
  5. Ensure strong institutional partnerships for asset-backed partnerships 

More must be done to work across local government boundaries so that the use of assets through economic development policy is made by cities at the level of their functional economy, allowing them to support economic growth. In those areas that elected metro mayors earlier this year, a clear framework for making better use of city assets is in place. But for those without, making strategic use of assets to support the local economy regardless of local authority boundaries, the task is still difficult and local considerations for land or property use can outweigh wider benefits.

Using public assets to gain a commercial return that can plug gaps in budgets left by nearly a decade of austerity has been a key driver for cities to form partnerships over recent years. The potential to drive up jobs, wages, housing development and invest in transportshould be the goal for assets in the next decade.