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Planning and Environmental Management

Tom Arnold

Contact details

Previous education

  • BA (Hons) History and Politics – University of Sheffield
  • MSc Urban Regeneration and Development – University of Manchester
  • Awarded the Royal Town Planning Institute Prize for performance in a University of Manchester planning course

Thesis title

Sustainable spatial rebalancing for Northern England: alternative models and future scenarios


Research details

Long-standing disparities between the economic performance of the North of England and more prosperous areas such as London and the South East have been the subject of academic and policy debate for almost 100 years. Recent initiatives to promote a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ has re-ignited interest in this issue and prompted discussion about how to create long-term and sustainable economic growth in Northern England, with the ultimate goal of reducing England’s historic economic reliance on London.

Recent attempts at economic rebalancing in Northern England are influenced by New Economic Geography (NEG) and agglomeration-based approaches, which emphasise the importance of economically efficient public investment and encourage the development of dense metropolitan centres. However, concerns have been raised about the spatial equity of such models, with current debates focusing on how to deliver more spatially inclusive growth – particularly in light of the EU referendum, which many commentators suggest highlighted the presence of a host of economically ‘left behind’ parts of the UK.

The research aims to examine different spatial development models and their viability for Northern England, in an attempt to move beyond the equity vs. efficiency arguments that have dominated the spatial rebalancing debate in recent years. Utilising a range of theoretical economic geography and planning approaches, it seeks to identify the ‘building blocks’ of sustainable economic growth, as well as assess the impact of infrastructure, and understand how lessons from successful spatial rebalancing around the world can be applied to Northern England. In doing so, the research aims to draw out key policy implications for future spatial development in Northern England and contribute to the wider spatial rebalancing debate. This ESRC CASE studentship is co-sponsored by IPPR North. 

Research interests

  • Spatial Analysis
  • Economic Geography
  • Urban and Regional Policy
  • English city-region devolution
  • Local economic development