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Integration of economic and spatial planning across scales

Alan Townsend (Durham University, Durham, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 2 October 2009




This paper aims to study a major aspect of the recent Treasury‐led Review of Sub‐national Economic Development and Regeneration in attempting to integrate work currently performed under the separate economic and spatial strategies through the preparation of single regional strategies.


The paper analyses several aspects of the existing work of regional development agencies (RDAs) to illustrate where they could be better informed to undertake their anticipated role in regional spatial planning.


The Labour Government has been forced to change its approach to reforms at the sub‐national level. In November, 2008 it performed a late compromise in response to the consultation on the Review, in giving equal status to the work of local authorities and RDAs in writing single regional strategies. This is welcomed, as is a strengthening of the scope of sub‐regional governance. Nonetheless the reforms do little to address the socio‐economic disparities between regions.

Practical implications

The paper informs approaches to the preparation of single regional strategies and highlights the need to give greater attention to the links between policy making and delivery at national, regional and local scales.


The paper draws on the perspectives of a senior academic who has also worked both as a civil service research officer in regional economic planning and as a member of local, district and county committees in local governance. This experience suggests that the Government's approach to reform was informed by an agenda that was too biased towards economic and too little to environmental and social priorities.



Townsend, A. (2009), "Integration of economic and spatial planning across scales", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 22 No. 7, pp. 643-659.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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