Governing beyond the metropolis: Placing the rural in city-region development

John Harrison, Jesse Heley

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Despite a select group of urban centres generating a disproportionate amount of global economic output, significant attention is being devoted to the impact of urban-economic processes on interstitial spaces lying between metropolitan areas. Nevertheless, there remains a noticeable silence in city-region debate concerning how rural spaces are conceptualised, governed and represented. In this paper we draw on recent city-region developments in England and Wales to suggest a paralysis of city-region policymaking has ensued from policy elites constantly swaying between a spatially-selective, city-first, agglomeration perspective on city-regionalism and a spatially-inclusive, region-first, scalar approach which fragments and divides territorial space along historical lines. In
the final part we provide a typology of functionally dominant city-region constructs which we suggest offers a way out from the paralysis that currently grips city-region policymaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1133
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number6
Early online date07 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2015


  • city-region
  • functional areas
  • metropolis
  • rural space
  • spatial planning
  • subnational governance


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