Malmö: re-imagining the city

In this post on his personal site, SSM’s Mark Burton reflects on a visit to Malmö in Sweden, a city that has been compared to Manchester. What are the key characteristics of its green policies and how far do they really go? What innovations are there that we might learn from here in Manchester and the region?


Our cities have grown up as the result of a number of factors. Manchester, with its origins in the Roman period, was a relatively small centre until particular geographical, historical, social and economic factors coincided to make it the world’s first industrial city. It then declined, until, facilitated by its business friendly Labour administration, it found a new role as a post-industrial centre. That renewal, according to the official story, is founded on science and technology, science, finance, tourism and sport, emphasising external direct investment, skills and competitiveness. In reality, a construction boom, together with the resilience of some economic sectors, has been at least as important.

Comparisons have been made with other cities with similar history. I have been lucky enough to visit several of these (including Hamburg, Barcelona, Newcastle, Sheffield and Glasgow) and have just been to Malmö, Sweden’s third city (by train). It is a…

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