UK Urban Futures Commission - RSA project - RSA

UK Urban Futures Commission

UK Urban Futures Commission

Unlocking cities’ potential

The UK Urban Futures Commission is an ambitious enquiry to unlock the potential of the UK’s cities. Led by the RSA in partnership with Core Cities UK and Lloyds Banking Group, the commission will work with cities and citizens to develop a transformative national plan for their future.

Three questions will guide the work of the UK Urban Futures Commission:

  1. What are cities and what role do they play in our social, economic and environmental systems? What are the biggest challenges and opportunities – both now and in the coming decades?
  2. In light of those challenges, what is our vision for cities in the future? What do we want and need them to be?
  3. How do we reach our vision for cities? What steps can we take now to get there?

Unleashing the potential of the UK’s cities

This report seeks to answer the question, how do we unleash the potential of cities so they add dynamism to economies, cohesiveness to communities and redemption to the environment. This is the culmination of 12 months’ of work by the Urban Futures Commission.

The final report from the UK Urban Futures Commission was launched on 28 September 2023 at an event in Sheffield. We thank our Co-chair, commissioners and partners for their expertise and efforts on this piece of work.

Aims and rationale

Building on the successes of our City Growth (2014) and Inclusive Growth (2017) commissions which explored how cities can drive prosperity through inclusive and place-based growth, and in the context of the Levelling Up agenda, this enquiry will develop a detailed action plan for maximising the potential of the UK’s cities.

With over half of the British population living in cities, and amid considerable economic, social and environmental challenges, unlocking cities’ full potential holds the key to building a fair and prosperous country.

In the short-term, this commission will provide cities, decision-makers, and residents with a practical toolkit for strengthening their place, as well as catalysing the investment and policymaking necessary to deliver real results.

In the longer term, the commission will aim to inform the evolving relationship between national and local government, support tailored and inclusive local place-making, and spur sustainable material improvements in the lives of city residents.

As the commission progresses, we’ll be inviting you to get involved and contribute to this piece of work in new and innovative ways.

Join the commission's community space

Help us achieve the short- and long-term goals of the UK Urban Futures Commission by sharing your knowledge in the dedicated community on Circle.

Our commissioners

The commission will be co-chaired by Andy Haldane, CEO of the RSA, and Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol and Core Cities UK Chair. Together they will convene seven expert commissioners from the worlds of policy, academia, business and finance, to provide specialist input and oversight.


Picture of Andy Haldane
Chief Executive, the RSA

Picture of Marvin Rees
Marvin Rees
Mayor of Bristol


Picture of Lord Karan Bilimoria
Lord Karan Bilimoria
President, CBI

Picture of Jane Davidson
Jane Davidson
Author of #futuregen: Lessons from a Small Country

Picture of David Hutchison
David Hutchison
Senior Advisor, Social Finance

Picture of Bruce Katz
Bruce Katz
Founder, New Localism Advisors

Picture of Professor Michael Keith
Professor Michael Keith
Director, PEAK Urban

Picture of Polly Mackenzie
Polly Mackenzie
Chief Social Purpose Officer, UAL

Picture of Anna Valero
Anna Valero
Distinguished Policy Fellow, LSE

The commission will also be supported by an urban finance advisory group of 11 finance and business experts chaired by David Hutchison, former Chief Executive of Social Finance.

Who we're working with

Lloyds Banking Group logo

Lloyds Banking Group
 is a financial services group focused on retail and commercial customers. Its purpose is Helping Britain Prosper, and it does this by creating a more sustainable and inclusive future for people and businesses. With a presence in nearly every community, it is committed to supporting the regions realise their full potential and shaping finance as a force for good. 

Core Cities UK logo

Core Cities UK
is an alliance of 11 cities - Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. Its mission is to unlock the full potential of the UK’s great city regions to create a stronger, fairer economy and society.

Supported by

PwC logo

Updates from the UK Urban Futures Commission

  • Leading for a brighter urban future


    Joan Munro

    UK Urban Futures Commission Leadership Researcher Joan Munro discusses how long-term government support could help council leaders and their partners move further and faster.

  • Regenerating places: redefining prosperity for UK cities


    Tom Stratton

    Regenerating cities is at the core of our Design for Life mission. Unlocking cities’ full potential holds the key to building a regenerative future for people, places and planet. Tom Stratton, RSA Chief of Staff, discusses.

  • Investment for inclusive and sustainable growth in cities


    Anna Valero

    Anna Valero highlights a decisive decade for addressing the UK’s longstanding productivity problems, large and persistent inequalities across and within regions, and delivering on net zero commitments.

Related RSA work

  • A new mission: Design for Life

    We are at the start of the latest chapter in the RSA’s rich history as a social change organisation. Read and feedback on our new mission paper, Design for Life.

  • Cities of Learning

    Connecting and catalysing place-based lifelong learning ecosystems to transition towards a regenerative economy.

  • Preventing School Exclusions

    Find out more about the RSA's work to make local education systems more inclusive and reduce preventable exclusions.