Urban assets and the financialization fix: land tenure, renewal and path dependency in the city of Birmingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Cardiff University
  • West Midlands Combined Authority, Birmingham


Cities are places of incremental decision-making involving complex negotiations that produce accumulations of urban assets and path dependency. The ownership, control and co-ordination of urban land and its transformation into an investment asset is a key link between economic interests and urban activities that come together in site-based “financialization fixes”. A financialization fix combines a development solution for a specific site with a financial model creating a locally embedded asset. This paper examines how land tenure (freehold versus leasehold rights) influences the transformation of a city and the role a local authority plays in the financial management of land assets. This includes an analysis of the application of financialization to urban assets and the first tax increment financing scheme of 1875.

Bibliographic note

The concept developed in the paper is a significant development of an on-debate in the literature on financialization. The existing literature identifies TIFs (Tax Increment Financing) back to an innovation in the US in 1952, but this paper identifies the first TIF as far back as 1875.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455–469
JournalCambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society
Issue number3
Early online date18 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2017


  • Birmingham UK, land tenure, financialization, urban assets, Tax Increment Financing (TIF), path dependency