Purpose - Seeks to analyse the complexity of current practices surrounding the management and governance of urban regeneration activities in the UK. In particular, aims to focus on the potential of initiatives decentralised to the sub-local level that have been designed both to effectively manage public service provision and to improve citizen participation in local government management decision making.
Design/methodology/approach - Explores the early experiences of local authorities' attempts to introduce "area committees" in line with the complex "modernisation" agendas advanced by the "New Labour" government under an overarching project of "new localism".
Findings - Highlights that new attempts at devolving power and responsibility to these sub-local structures should be more flexible to local conditions rather than directed by national policy.
Originality/value - Argues for a "middle way" to be adopted in managing local government and governance changes in order to develop a more "pragmatic localism".