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Commuting Contrasts in Post-Industrial England: Mobility in the World's First Urban Industrial City Regions

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This paper compares commuting behaviour in different regions of England, with the primary focus on a set of five northern city regions centred on Manchester whose built environment was forged by very early industrialization. Commuting flows are shaped by local geography, which in the study area features many similarly sized, closely spaced towns with strongly localized identity, plus a central upland area of the Pennines. Recent policies to improve transport within and between these city regions aim to increase agglomeration economies through increased commuting, a strategy supported by some research suggesting Pennine region people are unwilling to commute as far as workers elsewhere in England. Analysing data from two sources, Population Census and the National Travel Survey, provides diff ering evidence on regional commuting pa erns. Taking a historical perspective makes it clear that the distances commuted in the Pennine region are less divergent from the national average than are the longer distances commuted in and near London. The key factors associated with either shorter- or longer-distance commuting in Britain help explain shorter-distance commuting in the Pennine region and, in so doing, cast doubt on the potential of current policies either to increase longer-distance commuting or to enable many short-distance commuters to adopt a 'middling' distance commute. Labour demand deficiency is the key problem in the region: Pennine region people could be expected to commute further if more, and more well-paid, jobs were available. The paper also provides an exploratory analysis which suggests that strong localized identity such as that in Pennine towns could be linked to a preference for working nearer to home.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2019

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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