Place-based leadership: A new perspective on urban regeneration

Robin Hambleton, Director, Urban Answers and Professor of City Leadership in the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments, University of the West of England

Abstract: The role of inspirational leadership in bringing about successful urban regeneration has been neglected. This paper attempts to provide a corrective by exploring the role of place-based leadership in modern urban governance. It outlines arguments that are set out at greater length in the author’s new book, ‘Leading the inclusive city’ (2015). The forces that now shape the power of place in the modern world are discussed. These forces limit the scope for place-based leadership but they do not disable it. A new framework for understanding civic leadership — new civic leadership (NCL) — is presented. In any given locality there are various realms of place-based leadership reflecting different sources of legitimacy. The concept of engaged scholarship is introduced, and the idea of an Innovation Story is presented as a creative way of unearthing new knowledge about civic leadership. Two inspiring examples of effective place-based leadership are then outlined: Melbourne, Australia and Freiburg, Germany. Emerging themes for regeneration theory and practice are discussed and pointers for further research are suggested.


Keywords: leadership, innovation, regeneration, engaged scholarship, co-creation, inclusive governance


Robin Hambleton is Director of Urban Answers and Professor of City Leadership in the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Robin worked in inner city local authorities in England for 10 years before becoming an academic.


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