Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The 'Cambridge Phenomenon' and the challenge of planning reform

Boddy, Martin; Hickman, Hannah


Martin Boddy
PVC- Research and Enterprise

Hannah Hickman
Associate Professor in Planning Practice


The 'Cambridge Phenomenon' has achieved global recognition as an exemplar of economic success. After decades of post-war planning restraint, a major shift in the strategic planning framework saw the city region enthusiastically backing future growth. Faced, subsequently, with abolition of formal strategic planning at a national level and when many local councils took the opportunity to scale back development proposals, Cambridge reasserted its commitment to growth. The new 'localism' and the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework, however, leaves this strategy - and the Cambridge Phenomenon itself - potentially vulnerable. This article explains the continuing momentum behind growth in the face of radical planning reform and looks at the potential tensions between this and the new localism. It provides an updated account of this iconic, high-tech cluster. It also aims to contribute to our conceptual understanding of strategies for growth.


Boddy, M., & Hickman, H. (2016). The 'Cambridge Phenomenon' and the challenge of planning reform. Town Planning Review, 87(1), 31-52.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 1, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Deposit Date May 26, 2017
Journal Town Planning Review
Print ISSN 0041-0020
Electronic ISSN 1478-341X
Publisher Liverpool University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 87
Issue 1
Pages 31-52
Keywords strategic planning, economic growth, Cambridge, planning reform, England
Public URL
Publisher URL