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One size does not fit all for city regeneration finds new LSE research

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A new approach to urban regeneration is needed if Britain's cities' diverse communities are to fit together comfortably finds new research by academics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), published today (Wednesday 14 March).

In Jigsaw Cities: big places, small spaces (Policy Press), Professor Anne Power| and John Houghton, conclude that Britain's intensely urban and increasingly global communities are akin to interlocking pieces of a complex jigsaw - hard to see apart, yet deeply unequal.

Focusing on Birmingham, Britain's second largest city, as a model of pioneering urban order, Anne Power and John Houghton examine the divides and polarisation created by housing and neighbourhood decay. Jigsaw Cities argues that a more finely-tuned, community oriented and environmentally-sensitive approach to urban regeneration is needed to counter the top-down Sustainable Communities Plan which drives large scale building and minimal renovation.

The authors identify five key factors to make 'jigsaw cities' work:

  • smart growth and compact urban forms
  • neighbourhood renewal and local management
  • sustainable development within cities
  • mixed communities within existing neighbourhoods
  • citizen involvement in new ways of organising cities

Professor Anne Power said: 'We are far from solving the problems of urban neighbourhoods, since the concentrated amalgam of people, services, structures and activities all erode over time, requiring constant renewal. Birmingham exemplifies a jigsaw and is a pioneer of new urban forms. Its city centre regeneration, its canal side developments, and its beacon housing projects offer unique models of how we might move forward and help us understand where we are coming from and how far we have to go. It also offers stark examples of estate and neighbourhood decay, community disempowerment and 'Big Brother' decision making.'

John Houghton said: 'Every community and neighbourhood has a unique place and a particular relationship with all the other pieces of the urban jigsaw. All neighbourhoods need local management to maintain conditions that will attract a mix of functions and people. More deprived areas need more help to connect them with the broader life of the city.'

To mark the launch of Jigsaw Cities: big places, small spaces, and as part of the ESRC's 2007 Festival of Social Science, LSE's Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion| (CASE) hosts a public seminar with Anne Power and John Houghton on Wednesday 14 March at 5-6.30pm in Room R505, 5th Floor, LSE Research Laboratory, Lionel Robbins Building, Portugal Street, London WC2A. This event is free but booking is essential. To register to attend, please contact Anna Tamas, 020 7955 6562, email a.tamas@lse.ac.uk|.


Anne Power is available for comment on Friday 9 March. To contact, please call 020 7955 6330 or email anne.power@lse.ac.uk|

To request a review copy of Jigsaw Cities contact Jacqueline Lawless, email tpp-marketing@bristol.ac.uk| , telephone 0117 331 4097. Review copies will be available from Friday 9 March.


Anne Power is Professor of Social Policy at LSE, Sustainable Development Commissioner responsible for regeneration and sustainable communities; and member of the Government's Urban Task Force.

John Houghton was head of the Communities Division at the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit; a visiting research associate at CASE, and currently a Harkness scholar at the University of Minnesota. John Houghton worked as Anne Power's assistant during 2002-03 while Anne was Chair of the Independent Commission on the Future of Housing in Birmingham.

Jigsaw Cities: big places, small spaces by Professor Anne Power and John Houghton is published by Policy Press. It is available to buy from www.policypress.org.uk| or from Marston Book Services, PO Box 269, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4YN (01235 465500) price £23.99 plus £2.75 p&p.

Press cuttings

Regeneration and Renewal Magazine
Book review
Review of the new book Jigsaw Cities: big places, small spaces by Anne Power, professor of social policy at LSE and John Houghton.

The Guardian
Sprawl plugs
(14 March 07)
The only sustainable solution to the housing crisis lies in 'recycling' cities, not building on the greenbelt. Anne Power, professor of social policy at LSE and John Houghton make the case for 'smart growth' in their new book Jigsaw Cities. 

14 March 2007