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Is the grass always greener? Making sense of convergence and divergence in regeneration policies in England and Scotland

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  • The information, practices and views in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the trajectories of regeneration policy discourse and practice in a devolved UK context. Over recent years the asymmetrical nature of devolved governance has intensified, exemplified by a policy of political containment in Scotland and a reconfiguration of sub-national institutional architecture in England. Against a backdrop of the transfusion of Holyrood's devolution agenda and Westminster's localism programme, an empirical analysis of contemporary English and Scottish regeneration policy is provided. We investigate the extent to which perceived divergences in government policy resonate with those at the sharp end of regeneration practice, informed by concepts derived from the policy convergence/divergence literature. The key finding is the coexistence of ideological divergence, replete in political discourse and policy documentation, but growing convergence in actual existing practice, evidenced in the nature, extent and scale of initiatives. The enveloping fiscal context and austere politics, producing what is anticipated to be a protracted period of financial retrenchment, appears to be a defining factor in contemporary urban regeneration policy convergence.

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