Invoking new metropolitan imaginaries: what type of metropolitan region for what kind of metropolitan planning and governance?

This chapter asks whether new metropolitan imaginaries are meaning-ful in any essential sense. It does this by considering the implications for metropolitan regions, planning and governance of new metropolitan (and other spatial) imaginaries. We reveal the inherent unevenness that maps of these spatial imaginaries often belie. This unevenness in institutional capacity, spatial coherence and planning competency is critical because it allows us to consider the extent to which metropolitan spatial imaginaries equate to examples of deep or shallow-rooted regionalism. The importance we attach to this is the potential to identify those metropolitan regional imaginaries which are likely to develop into harder institutional forms, which might remain weakly institutionalised, and which could just as easily disappear altogether. The contribution of this chapter is to examine a series of tensions – urban-rural, elites-citizens, urban-suburban, static-dynamic – and the challenges and opportunities for mobilising meaningful spatial imaginaries for planning and governing metropolitan regions.