Vibrant place

Where growth happens

As the UK emerges from recession, increasing attention is being given to the stimulation of growth.

Yet growth does not occur evenly across the country and different types of growth – economic, demographic or otherwise – present different opportunities and implications for policy makers and local leaders in fostering that growth.

To shed light on the drivers of local growth, our Place Analytics team created two indices. The first analysed past growth: the high growth index. The second took into account that historic growth may not be a useful predictor of future growth and considered instead the quality of growth (the dynamic growth index). 

From the combined rankings, key characteristics of those places were identified and show the importance of adopting a 'balanced scorecard' perspective around economic, demographic and environmental aspects; a finding that was supported by interviews with a range of local leaders and chief executives with experience over-seeing growth in their areas.

Combining rankings for both growth and dynamism reveals a pattern of growth in England based around nine growth corridors - functional and large scale local economic areas in England. This finding also supports much of the current thinking on economic development and suggests that these corridors have been at the centre of growth for the past decade and will continue to be so in the future. This has important implications, not only for UK policy makers, but also locally, for those sitting within corridors and those outside that are aspiring to achieve growth.

Phillip Woolley, Partner, Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented: "The High Growth Index raises a number of interesting questions about current economic policy, as London makes up around 50% of the top performing districts. The focus needs to be on re-balancing the economy and creating economic scale to drive sustainable growth outside of the capital, as much as within it. The growth corridors identified by the report also highlight a number of implications for those local authorities and LEPs, both in and out of these corridors.”

Snapshot of high growth

Our high growth index ranks places according to economic and demographic measures. It shows the pivotal role played by local economies in London in driving growth nationally and the role of cities for driving growth regionally.

Dynamic growth corridors

As historic areas of high growth may not necessarily be an indicator of future growth or sustainability, we assessed a selection of productivity drivers to create a dynamism index that ranks places according to the quality of growth.

Combining the high growth and dynamism indices reveals a pattern of growth corridors.

This supports much of the current thinking on economic development, as it suggests that these corridors, which have been at the heart of growth over the last decade, are likely to remain at the centre of driving England's growth in the next decade.

Implications of growth corridors

For those places wishing and needing to grow, the principle of growth corridors raises a number of important implications for local places.

Both those that sit at the heart of a corridor and those operating outside of them. As such, it is essential that individual areas understand their place, its unique economic characteristics and assets, and ultimately its role and future function in England’s growth story.


For those inside growth corridors

  • Work collaboratively across administrative boundaries
  • Identify and remove wasteful duplication
  • Identify and remove disruptive competition
  • Ensure adequate provision of services to retain talent locally
  • Support entrepreneurial activity
  • Promote your corridor to drive inward investment

For those outside growth corridors

  • Identify the most appropriate corridor
  • Understand your relationship to it
  • Identify opportunities and services
  • Create physical, governance and operational linkages
  • Be creative and frame local solutions 

Watch our video summary

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PDF Where growth happens Read the report
Video Where growth happens - The high growth index of places Watch the video