I have just discovered a study which suggests that there is very little evidence that the big UK regional cities perform better than other places (for example towns and smaller cities)- in fact the opposite.
It found that the economic relationship between the big cities and their hinterland is one of interdependence – in other words the big provincial cities and their surrounding towns, villages and other cities work together as a system.
Does this suggest that it would make more sense to spend billions of £s on better linking the UK’s northern and other cities to their hinterlands than on linking them to London via HS2?
The report is: “Are Big Cities really the motor of UK Regional economic growth?” by Steve Forthergill (Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University), and Donald Houston (Department for Urban Studies, University of Glasgow).
So far I have only read the abstract, and am trying to get hold of the whole paper.
Update January 2018: Since writing the above I have seen it argued (with evidence) that the UK’s northern cities don’t act that much as a system. Each city is supported by its own hinterland and it is the transport links of each city with its own hinterland which needs strengthening. So, it is argued, that HS3 is a red herring – the priority must be the local transport links and systems.