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Is Pennine England becoming more Polycentric or more Centripetal? An Analysis of Commuting Flows in a Transforming Industrial Region, 1981-2001

Listed author(s):
  • Tony Champion
  • Mike Coombes
Registered author(s):

    This paper examines census-derived commuting data for the world's earliest major urbanindustrial region, now home to 10 million people. Owing its origins to water power from the Pennine rivers, this region now comprises many closely-spaced cities and towns whose distinct identities have been eroded through the loss of their local industrial specialisms and the long-term growth in mobility. It contains five of the city regions identified by 'The Northern Way', a policy initiative designed as part of the Labour government's 2004 Sustainable Cities Plan for stimulating agglomeration economies across the wider region, with a more polycentric structure being seen as a positive contribution to this development. The paper tests how far this part of Northern England may be evolving into a single polycentric mega-city region, using commuting data from the 1981, 1991 and 2001 Censuses. Two hypotheses are tested; namely, that there is increasing polycentricity within each of the five city regions and that there is increasing linkage between the five city regions. With gravity modelling removing the effects of generic reductions in distance deterrence, evidence is found of trends towards greater polycentricity at both these scales of analysis, albeit modest in scale: there has been some reduction in the five cities' attraction of commuters living in the other parts of their city regions and the boundaries between the city regions have become somewhat more permeable over time.

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    Paper provided by Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE in its series SERC Discussion Papers with number 0105.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2012
    Handle: RePEc:cep:sercdp:0105
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    1. Bastiaan De Goei & Martijn Burger & Frank Van Oort & Michael Kitson, 2010. "Functional Polycentrism and Urban Network Development in the Greater South East, United Kingdom: Evidence from Commuting Patterns, 1981-2001," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(9), pages 1149-1170.
    2. Peter Franz & Christoph Hornych, 2010. "Political Institutionalisation and Economic Specialisation in Polycentric Metropolitan Regions: The Case of the East German ‘Saxony Triangle’," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 47(12), pages 2665-2682, November.
    3. A.G. Champion, 2001. "A Changing Demographic Regime and Evolving Poly centric Urban Regions: Consequences for the Size, Composition and Distribution of City Populations," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 38(4), pages 657-677, April.
    4. Robert Lang & Paul Knox, 2009. "The New Metropolis: Rethinking Megalopolis," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(6), pages 789-802.
    5. Nick Bailey & Ivan Turok, 2001. "Central Scotland as a Polycentric Urban Region: Useful Planning Concept or Chimera?," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 38(4), pages 697-715, April.
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