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(Re)conceptualising the business agenda: Privatism and the politics of urban regeneration in London’s South Bank

17:30 - 19:00 16 January 2013

Location: Room 517, Wates House, 22 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0QB

Please note that this seminar has been postponed at a later date

London Planning Seminars

Emma Street, Department of Real Estate and Planning, University of Reading

The early to mid 1990s saw a period of intense activity as UK-based urban researchers sought to understand a range of shifts occurring at the city-scale. In conceptualising these developments, UK scholars looked towards the United States, where their counterparts were utilising concepts such as regimes to theorise new city-based public-private alliances informed by a privatist logic. While, in the UK, policy initiatives designed to induce business engagement in urban affairs have had varying levels of success, there has been a persistent (if not consistent) belief in the private sector’s ability to stimulate economic urban expansion alongside delivering prosperity at the local level. More recently, the private sector has been invited to participate in neighbourhood-scale regeneration through initiatives such as Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). Indeed, we are now seeing the emergence of ‘super-BIDs’ in which businesses engage in a range of activities far beyond the ‘safe, green and clean’ agenda. While there is a rich legacy of writings about the business role in urban affairs, there have been surprisingly few attempts to revisit and update this literature. This paper uses a case study of business-led regeneration in London’s South Bank to demonstrate the need for urban scholars to (re)consider the myriad ways in which the local business agenda is constituted, mobilised and its political and spatialised effects.