The Coalition Government has abolished regional institutions, with ‘localism’ now regarded as the best approach for promoting economic development and shaping and delivering public services. This article provides an early assessment of the shift by drawing upon research in the North East of England, where the dismantling of the regional tier is likely to have a considerable impact given its long history of regional economic interventions and the traditionally strong level of support for the idea of a coherent regional voice. For some in the region, the changes have generated concerns about the end of the ‘North East’ and scepticism about the Government’s motives for promoting localism. Others articulate a more sanguine view: that there is life ‘after the region’ and that, in any case, the long-standing focus on the ‘North East’, as an administrative and economic construct, was itself problematic. Now, there are signs that a ‘commonsense’ regionalism may be emerging – a pragmatism that recognises that, while the North East needs to take advantage of new opportunities under localism, coordination and integration at the regional level will still be required.