Journal Article

Soft space, Hard bargaining: Planning for high-tech growth in ’Science Vale UK’


The South East of England is Britain's ‘problem region’ of unsettled administrative and political arrangements centred on a dense web of generally small settlements and their complex interrelations. Surrounding and tied to the international finance and political centres of London, much of the rest of the semirural South East region nevertheless exhibits a degree of polycentricity. Notably, within the South East of England are a series of ‘high-tech’ hot spots critical to future UK economic growth. However, the achievement of significant growth in and around high-tech spaces is challenging, given the context of semirurality and historic infrastructure shortfalls in some of these locations. Growth is therefore associated with significant planning dilemmas, a situation which has prompted the introduction of ‘soft’ planning spaces as a means to transcend sclerotic governance structures and planning policy stasis. Yet, these subregional arrangements may also represent a vehicle for the reassertion of territory, refracting and reinforcing local political conflict rather than cultivating an unambiguous form of postpolitics. We illustrate these issues with regard to the emergence of the ‘Science Vale UK’ area in southern Oxfordshire, and consider some of the broader implications of planning for growth in such a distinctive settlement pattern.

Attached files


Valler, D
Phelps, N
Radford, J

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment\School of the Built Environment


Year of publication: 2014
Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-02-07

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