What 'place' for city regions in English devolution post-Brexit? Contested geographies and spatial imaginaries in the Sheffield City Region

Authors: Charlotte Hoole*, University of Sheffield, Stephen Hincks, University of Sheffield
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: governance, devolution, spatial imaginaries, territorial spaces, place identity, Brexit
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Cleveland 1, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper investigates the way that top-down policy and governance reforms are shaped and challenged by the logics, tactics and politics of local people in 'place'. It does so in the context of English devolution since 2010, following a major restructure of the sub-national institutional architecture to accommodate city-regions. By drawing on 56 interviews with senior public and private sector representatives in the Sheffield City Region, it is argued that governance based on functionality overlooks the importance of local relationships, practices and identities that are embedded in local frameworks of knowledge, norms and values. Set within the aftermath of the 2016 EU Referendum that saw the UK vote to leave the European Union, this paper is timely in its contribution to a contemporary urban narrative that surrounds the implications of Brexit on English devolution and the need to deliver more meaningful devolution at a scale that can offer a more balanced and inclusive approach to growth. Internationally, this research adds to debates on 'spatial imaginaries', territorial and relational spaces, and place identity.

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