The polycentric metropolis: A Western European perspective on mega-city regions
European planners have recently become involved with two related concepts: the city region and polycentric development. This is reflected both at the European level, in the European Spatial Development Perspective (European Commission 1999) and the Leipzig Charter (EU 2007 DE 2007), as well as in European Union (EU) member states, such as the UK’s Northern Way (Great Britain Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 2004). In addition, recent EU-funded research projects, such as ESPON and POLYNET, are centrally concerned with both concepts (ESPON 2006; Hall and Pain 2006). But in practice, each proves subtle and difficult to handle. City regions are not physical (morphological) units like the UK conurbations or the French agglomerations-nor are they administrative units, though administrative units must usually be used to define them. Essentially, they have to be defined in terms of Castells’ “Space of Flows”—flows of people and information, especially the latter (Castells 1989: 344). They are Functional Urban Regions (FURs).