As the largest UK city outside London, with one of the most diverse and youthful populations anywhere in the UK, the City of Birmingham and the Greater Birmingham area have the potential to set a new agenda for 21st century urban living. Like most great cities, Birmingham is experiencing unprecedented change brought about in part by global economic forces combined with reductions in national and local public expenditure. While generating some innovative outcomes, this challenge has exacerbated environmental and societal problems (education, radicalisation, health, pollution, energy) rooted in long-term, persistent deprivation that has been a feature of the city for a number of decades, even continuing during past periods of economic growth.
The Urban Living Birmingham consortium (one of six successful Urban Living Partnership pilot projects) is identifying improvements to urban services by combining top-down urban governance with bottom-up lay and expert knowledge to provide an environment that emphasises and encourages innovations that generate a step change in urban service provision and better outcomes for people.
Urban Living Birmingham brings together the expertise of four universities (University of Birmingham with Birmingham City University, Aston University and the University of Warwick); national and international academic institutions; and very many local, regional and national organisations. It builds upon extensive expertise and complementary research, including the Liveable Cities City Analysis Methodology.
The Urban Living Partnership:
In 2015, the seven UK Research Councils and Innovate UK came together to advance the challenges faced by urban areas in the UK and help realise visions for future urban living. They subsequently announced a Pilot Phase Call for bids of up to £400,000. Successful bidding consortia had to bring together cross-disciplinary research expertise, city leaders, civic organisations / community groups, public, third sector, private sector businesses and other urban innovators. Bids had to focus upon a specific UK city / urban area, whilst at the same time develop a holistic understanding of the complex and interdependent challenges that can be translated elsewhere.