Town Planning Review

Planning for sustainable re-urbanisation: Policy challenges and city centre housing in Birmingham

Town Planning Review (2007), 78, (2), 179–202.

Abstract

This paper investigates how urban planning and spatial policy at the local scale has shaped and responded to the rapid growth of city-centre housing development in Birmingham. The rapid growth of private residential development in the heart of England's large regional cities since the 1990s raises new opportunities and challenges for planners, especially concerning the long-term sustainability of this market and its implications for adjacent inner-city districts. While this phenomenon is the subject of a growing literature, there is little empirically grounded research into the recent role of the local state in facilitating, shaping or tempering this process in English cities. This paper aims to provide such an investigation through a detailed case study of Birmingham, site of England's second largest regional city-centre housing market. It critically analyses the city's experience through three phases of development and corresponding planning approaches with particular emphasis on the evolving use of subsidy – from early efforts to stimulate the market to more recent attempts to broaden and diversify the housing supply. This discussion explores the rationale behind policy, practical innovations, limitations and outstanding issues, including the need for a more proactive and integrated planning framework in the future. It concludes by highlighting the need for further empirical comparative research to better understand the long-term planning implications and opportunities raised by the city living process.

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Barber, Austin