A growth agenda without growth: English spatial policy, sustainable communities, and the death of the neo-liberal project?
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The rapid onset of the recession in the UK in 2009 is likely to have profound implications for English spatial policy. The neo-liberal emphasis on supporting, and catering for, the expansion of the globally competitive London and the South East region is coming under strain as growth falters. The future of spatial policy seems uncertain as does the emphasis on what has been termed sustainable community-building. This paper explores and assesses the politics of assumption-building that have underpinned spatial policy practices and thinking in England under the Labour government. It examines and highlights some of the key challenges and difficulties that now face policy-makers and explores the possibility that we are witnessing the emergence of new forms of neo-Keynesianism. It shows that as the core assumptions of the 1990s and 2000s break down, so new opportunities are opened up for alternative, less growth-oriented agendas. The paper concludes by highlighting areas for further research and sketching out possible futures for the sustainable communities agenda.