Monday, 27 April 2009

Polycentric Urban Regions

A short post today on the topic of polycentric urban regions - a topic that has become quite popular in the academic literature over the past few years. I'm mentioning this because I am planning to do some work comparing British and Japanese polycentric urban regions in the near future, with a colleague in Japan. This work might explore the similarities and differences between the north of England and the Kansai region in Japan. In the latter, the metropolitan areas of Liverpool (Merseyside), Manchester (Greater Manchester), Leeds (West Yorkshire) and Sheffield (South Yorkshire) form one such area. The image below is from another piece of research I recently did on flow mapping for a journal article.

In Japan, the Kansai region is located in the southern central area of Honshu, the largest of the Japanese islands. The major cities there are Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe but there are many more important settlements in the region (see below). This region is much more highly populated than the English example, but they share many common features. It will be interesting to contrast and compare these two examples and to simultaneously test the validity of the polycentric urban region paradigm.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Population Again - Inverness and Nairn

A short post today in answer to a question. I previously blogged on the population of Inverness, but someone asked if it could be expanded to include Nairn. The section between Inverness and Nairn on the A96 corridor is currently the focus of much interest and big plans so this is a topical issue. Very simply, the masterplan involves increasing the population between Inverness and Nairn by 30,000. This areas was identified as a strategic location in The National Planning Framework for Scotland in 2004. So, growth looks likely... But how many people are living there now? Well, based on 2007 population estimates, the figure is 68,642 - in the area indicated in the map below. If the proposed growth happens (notwithstanding the current economic situation) then the Inverness-Nairn 'city region' would have a combined population of around 100,000.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Economic Deprivation Index (EDI)

I've been meaning to blog on this for a while, so here goes...

Relatively recently, the Department for Communities and Local Government released the Economic Deprivation Index for the purposes of 'tracking neighbourhoods' through time in relation to their levels of economic deprivation. They did this because the existing Indices of Multiple Deprivation (2004 and 2007) 'do not facilitate backwards comparison nor do they enable users to understand how the pattern of deprivation is changing between these fixed points' (CLG, 2009).

Despite this, several examples of comparison between 2004 and 2007 deprivation levels have been produced at the local level - e.g. exhibit a, exhibit b - though I'm not picking on anyone here; I actually think there is a good deal of confusion that needs to be addressed since the new EDI says what is quoted above and the information on the 2007 Indices of Deprivation page says 'comparison between the two Indices is therefore acceptable'. So, it is hardly surprising that people compare IMD 2004 and 2007.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. The EDI is comprised of data from the Income and Employment Domains of the IMD and is produced on a yearly basis from 1999 to 2005. The maps below summarise changes at LSOA level, where green is an improvement in rank and red is a reduction in rank. You can click on the images for larger maps.

More commentary follows below... but the official report is worth a look.

England EDI Change in Rank 1999-2005 (Green = Improvement, Red = Decline)

A couple of nuggets here for England as a whole... The largest change in rank towards being more deprived was 17,769 - for a LSOA in Slough (008D), which changed from a rank of 31,509 in 1999 to 13,740 in 2005. Since LSOAs are quite small, and the data very sensitive to micro-spatial factors, such changes are not entirely surprising (but I do wonder what happened here). In total, 27 LSOAs saw their rank change by 10,000 or more places towards being more deprived and the majority of these were in the south of England.

At the other end of the scale, there were 22 LSOAs which changed rank by 10,000 or more towards being less deprived. The LSOA experiencing the largest improvement was in Tower Hamlets (029A) with a rank change of 18,463 places. In 1999 it was ranked as the 12,878th most deprived in England (so, not really that deprived) and by 2005 it had moved to 31,341. More interestingly, one LSOA in Nottingham (026C) was amongst the most deprived in 1999 (ranked 3,150) but by 2005 was ranked 16,873 (a change of 13,723 places - the fourth largest improvement). The big leap forward came between 2002 and 2003 (new build 'luxury apartments'?).

London EDI Change in Rank 1999-2005 (Green = Improvement, Red = Decline)

We can also take a closer look at London - there does seem to be a more obvious pattern of change between 1999 and 2005 than for England as a whole. This is clearer towards inner London and perhaps reflects even more severe housing market pressures in the capital - particularly in Westminster, Islington, Tower Hamlets and Hackney. The outer boroughs, and Hillingdon in particular, seem to have become more deprived according to the EDI - although this is all relative of course because some of these areas are not at all 'deprived'.

Manchester EDI Change in Rank 1999-2005 (Green = Improvement, Red = Decline)

And now to Manchester, because it is the location of the LSOA that has remained most deprived on the EDI for each year from 1999 to 2005 (Manchester 009C). The overall pattern looks not too bad, with mostly greens. However, when you overlay the location of the 10% most deprived LSOAs (2004 IMD - since these are the main policy targets), things don't necessarily look so good. Lots of areas which remain the focus of policy have not improved on the EDI - they have become worse according to this measure. The exact change in rank may not be statistically significant but it is notable that they have not been able to improve rank at all. I'll not go into whether or not such indices are a useful measure - that's not for me to decide. I just thought it would be useful to explore the data for now.

So, that's the Economic Deprivation Index... Now I need a holiday.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Euro blogging...

Things have been quieter on the blog front recently because I've been in Lille from 1-5 April and then Leuven from 5-9 April at the Regional Studies Association International Conference 2009. The event brings together key thinkers (not that I think I'm amongst them!) in regional studies from across Europe and the wider world, though it tends to be mostly European. Papers given at the conference were varied and reflect the broad constituency of the field of regional studies itself. So, we find economists mixing with geographers, planners and those who transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Of particular interest for me here was the special session centred on DCLG (a government department in the UK, with responsibilities in England) and the establishment of the new spatial analysis unit, headed by David Wood (economist by training). There were three pleasing aspects about this for me. First, the fact that David Wood and Verity Morgan from DCLG were in attendance in the first place - very good. Second, the fact that there is a new unit within DCLG dedicated to spatial analysis - this is right down my street, as previous posts have shown. Finally, the fact that senior people in the Department are enthusiastic about this kind of work, and particularly work which I had a key role in - I've blogged on it before.

Finally, some visuals on the route from Sheffield to Leuven. I'm taking the Eurostar back...

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