Professor Ron Martin, from Cambridge’s Department of Geography is heading up the largest ever analysis of the post-industrial fortunes of the UK’s cities.

More than half the world’s population live in cities and the importance of them and how they thrive is paramount to future populations, economies and the livelihoods of those dwelling in them.

In the UK we see a huge discrepancy in the success of our cities, often seeing a north/south divide as the post-industrial decline in traditional manufacturing continues to have adverse effects. Indeed the fastest growing cities over the past three decades have been those in the south of the country, linked with a downturn in manufacturing in the north and an increase in service industries in the south. The fastest growing places tend to be those new, planned towns such as Milton Keynes – employment and wages there tending to be far higher than in places such as Stoke, a former thriving pottery town.

Applicants to Geography, Land Economy, Architecture and PPE may question how can we reinvent and revive UK cities and whether the government should be responsible for this. Can we even the economic map of Britain? Is awarding Hull ‘City of Culture 2017’ and signing off on the go ahead for a huge £110m arts hub, ‘The Factory’ in Manchester a step towards closing this gap? Or are these gestures simply symbolic?

As an extension, you may also think about how to make our cities greener, more environmentally friendly places to live and work.

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