Policy priority 2: A strategic aim
Develop a spatial plan that sets out the roles of different parts of the city region
- A spatial plan allows the metro mayor to be bold and strategic about the future growth of the city region, making best use of the land available, especially within its city centres.
- It also provides a clear signal to both public (e.g. NHS, universities) and private sector stakeholders the approach that will be taken to development in the area, increasing certainty.
Identify the roles that different parts of the city region play as locations for businesses
In recent years, the parts of the UK that have been successful have been the ones that have been best able to attract investment from higher-skilled businesses. This has been a problem in Sheffield City Region — in terms of manufacturing, the share of jobs that are high-skilled lag the English and Welsh average (in spite of the high-skilled activities of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre),5 while at 8.9 per cent, the share of all jobs in knowledge-intensive business services jobs is below the British average of 13.6 per cent. The result is that both productivity and wages lag the national average.
These businesses look for very specific locations within city regions. High-skilled services businesses in particular have increasingly located in successful city centres in recent years because of the benefits that such a location provides to these types of businesses. The relative lack of success that the centres of Sheffield, Barnsley and Doncaster have had at attracting in such businesses in recent years has undermined the ability of the city region as a whole to attract jobs in these higher paying jobs.
A spatial plan that sets out the different roles that different parts of the city region play in the economy, be that residential or commercial, will be crucial in identifying how land will be best used. Within this there should a specific focus on making the city centres of the city region more attractive places to do business, so as to improve the ability of the area to attract in higher-skilled service activities in the future.
Send a signal to stakeholders
While the mayor has little control over the activities of many stakeholders operating in the city region, be that the NHS or private businesses, a spatial plan clearly sets out what the mayor is aiming to achieve, which improves the chances of all parties being aligned in their activities. This clarity is something that the mayor can provide much more easily than council leaders because of the strategic nature of the role and the wider geography that it covers.