Coronavirus is changing the way we live in cities. Many people are now working from home and spending more time in their local communities. While some smaller businesses have reported they are thriving, urban centres are struggling to survive. The benefits of this drop in commuting for carbon emissions, health and wellbeing are at odds with the financial model that has long underpinned city centre economies. It’s no surprise that the arbiters of financial capitalism have insisted that workers must return to the office. But what if instead of resisting these profound economic changes, we embraced them and built something better than the urban economy of the past? For the last two decades, English urban policy has focused on what’s known as “agglomeration”, or the spatial concentration of economic activity in cities. This approach to urban development has long treated city centres as convenient and easy landing points for global financial capital. It’s naturally appealing to global investors, who crave speedy and easy financial returns built around the sure-fire bet of land and property development. Agglomeration is the reason our cities have densely concentrated networks of offices and financial centres, and why people in London, the UK’s main financial centre,… Read full this story
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