The Urbanism Hours are virtual lunch time events that explore a given theme within the built environment, with two speakers and a Q&A discussion.

February's Urbanism Hour will zoom out to look at how metropolitan and regional areas are tackling big challenges at scale. With mechanisms such as combined authorities and city region deals increasing in the UK, we will find out what their role is and what their increasing presence means for local, place-specific development.


We will be joined by Henk Bouman, Secretary General of METREX, a network of European metropolitan regions and areas. From Lisbon Metropolitan Area to the Metropolitan City of Milan, formal and informal partnerships are operating in places across Europe to shape change at a scale that is most effective. Henk will speak about some of the projects METREX Members are working on to tackle sustainable development goals – from the circular economy to food strategies, land for affordable housing to economic development.

We will also hear from Laura Shoaf CBE, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).  Laura leads a combined authority which represents around four million people. Formed in 2016, the WMCA has been instrumental in devolving powers and attracting record levels of investment into the region. In Spring 2023, the West Midlands successfully secured a Deeper Devolution Deal from Government thought to be worth around £1.5 billion. Laura was key in the creation of the WMCA and will explain how, working with local authority partners, they are driving inclusive economic growth; investing in transport, skills and housing; and helping to make the West Midlands a better place to live, work and visit. 

This Urbanism Hour will be chaired by Matt Lally, AoU Board Director and Director in Arup's Integrated City Planning team in London.

This event is virtual and will take place via Zoom. You can find the Zoom link in your booking confirmation, and a reminder will also be sent out on the morning of the event.

With thanks to Metrex whose support has made this event free to attend for Non-Members.

Thumbnail photo by Sigmund via Unsplash

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The Academy of Urbanism (Number 2) Limited is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 0595604, 11c Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 IXE, United Kingdom.
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