Whose fringe is it anyway: prospects and opportunities for integrated management of the
urban- rural fringe.
Alister Scott...
Birmingham and our Local Enterprise Partners (environmental governance); 88
participants* (held) draft report out (attache...
against the spirit and purpose of ‘spatial planning’ which seeks to marry multi-scalar and multi-sectoral
considerations w...
struggles to fit within any rigid, quasi-legal structure of the current land use planning system. Indeed,
Qvistrom (2007) ...
The RUF is a unique space, with important values to users from both urban and rural areas. however
the current ...
Shoard, M., 2002. Edgelands. In: Jenkins, J. (Ed.), Remaking the Landscape: The Changing Face of Britain.
Profile Books, L...
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Summary paper scottseattleruf

  1. 1. Whose fringe is it anyway: prospects and opportunities for integrated management of the urban- rural fringe. Alister Scott, Professor of Spatial Planning and Governance Birmingham City University. Abstract: The spaces where countryside meets town are often amongst society's most valued places yet, arguably, lack sufficient understanding and integrated management.. What is this fringe or edge space? How is it changing and why? And how can environmental change be managed more effectively where uncertainty, diversity, neglect, conflict and transition commonly feature? This project builds on existing research and decision-making tools, but is located within a hybrid conceptual framework. Emerging concepts from the intersection of spatial planning and ecosystem service paradigms have been identified and applied within a series of focussed briefs unpacking the potential and opportunities for management of the fringe. Set within an emerging discourse of rapidly changing environmental governance in the UK, community environmental planning, valuation and decision making and long term environmental planning provide the foci for two case studies to identify and evaluate management issues and needs in particular places. From these, strategic principles are promulgated to shape an interdisciplinary spatial model for fringe management. It is concluded that fringe areas provide an important test arena within which to study environmental change through multi-scalar and multi-temporal perspectives and it is clear, in an English context that there is a significant policy disjuncture with the contemporary thrust on localism whilst this research identifies the need for more regional scales of working and understanding Prelude This paper seeks to champion the opportunity space provided at the fringe; the space where town meets countryside or vice versa. This zone, fringe or edge has been much neglected and associated predominately with negative vocabulary and attitudes within urban-centric models of expansion. But drawing on research that converges around spatial planning and ecosystem services ideas, we seek to show how this space can be re-imagined pro-actively in pursuit of wider environmental and societal goals. The thrust of this paper will draw inspiration from a series of recent workshops held from November 2010 –April 2011 as part of a wider RELU1 project looking at the management of the rural urban fringe. In all some 200 specialists crossing traditional disciplinary and professional boundaries have contributed. Due to the ongoing nature of this the paper will be using a preliminary contents analysis to augment the established literature. Your views will be most welcome. West Midlands Rural Affairs Forum Improving decision making for the sustainable management of the rural-urban fringe (relevant to all policy briefs); 25 participants* (held) reports finalised (attached) Green Economics Institute Working Symposium on Long Termism in the Built Environment: the Rural Urban Fringe and Land Use, including Farming, Food, and Architecture (Long termism and values/decision-making); 65 participants* (held) draft reports out for consultation (attached) (further workshop to follow 3 May discussing reports) Birmingham Environmental Partnership (+ Sustainability West midlands + Chamber of Commerce) Bridging the rural urban divide through green economic opportunities for 1 RELU= Rural Economy and Land Use Programme. www.relu.ac.uk
  2. 2. Birmingham and our Local Enterprise Partners (environmental governance); 88 participants* (held) draft report out (attached) Localise West Midlands Meeting local needs with local resources in the rural urban fringe: (Values and Decision Making); 20 participants (February 17 2011) draft report BCU Learning the lessons from Strategic planning: resurrecting institutional memories Mark Middleton as lead 11 March 2010 14 participants draft report Forest Research 8 participants (Values and Decision making) (March 2011) Claudia Carter as lead. April 8th Introduction The zone where urban meets rural is ubiquitous yet highly diverse across the UK. Arguably the fringe now represents the dominant space of the 21st century (Mckenzie, 1996). Gallent et al (2004:223) suggest that the key attributes of the rural-urban fringe are characterised by: a multi-functional environment, but often characterised by essential service functions; a dynamic environment, characterised by adaptation and conversion between uses; low-density economic activity including retail, industry, distribution and warehousing; an untidy landscape, potentially rich in wildlife. However, rather than any clear lines of demarcation, the fringe represents ‘fuzzy’, ‘messy’ and transitory spaces undergoing iterative and haphazard processes of continuous and rapid transformation (Sullivan and Lovell, 2006). From “landscapes at the edge” (Gallent et al, 2006); places of transition (Whitehand and Morton, 2004); landscapes of disorder (Qvistrom, 2007); chaotic landscapes (Gant et al, 2010); a new geography of urban sprawl (Micarelli and Pizzioli, 2008); the ‘last frontier’ (Griffiths 1994) –ephemeral landscapes (Qvistrom 2010) and edgelands (Shoard, 2002); reflect the highly potent academic contribution . Collectively, they all raise an implicit ‘otherness’, reflecting not only the nature of the place, but also possible communities and inhabitants who choose to reside there. Commonly, it is subservient to an urban master acting as a repository for an ever increasing set of demands such as housing, retail development, recreation and waste management which are constrained by the implementation of green belt policies which shape substantive parts of the fringe (Bovill, 2002; Elson, 1986). Accordingly, a patchwork spatial structure has developed, driven by macro-scale, rapidly implemented drivers of change such as supermarket chains, housing developers and other large scale infrastructure. Indeed, it is this faster pace and large-scale nature of change that differentiates this space and, given the range of interests affected, can engender significant local contestation (Weaver and Lawton, 2001: Freiberger, 2000; Friedland, 2002). Nevertheless, presenting any simple stereotype of the fringe is both dangerous and irrelevant given the diversity and complexity that is now involved (Scott et al, 2008). This urban-centric, reactive and piecemeal approach to planning in the fringe is of concern as little if any attention has been given to the needs of the place itself and those people who live and work there(Sharp and Clark, 2008). Essentially it is space waiting for something “better” to happen. This goes
  3. 3. against the spirit and purpose of ‘spatial planning’ which seeks to marry multi-scalar and multi-sectoral considerations within a strategic framework . Furthermore, these spaces have a wide range of ecosystem services which provide value for society as a whole (Haines-Young and Potschin, 2007; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2003). Seemingly, there is a significant disconnect between the potential of the fringe within an adaptive management approach (Armitage et al 2009) and the “messy” reality which confronts many publics who interact with the space. Renewed attention, within an English context, on these spaces is opportune given the wholesale changes to the English planning system currently taking place where “localism, localism , and localism” now reigns supreme (Clark, 2011). Whilst, the potential for delivering positive change within the fringe is huge, squaring the need for better strategic management within a localism agenda presents a significant planning conundrum. Not surprisingly policy has consistently struggled to adapt to the rapidly changing nature of development of some parts of the fringe. Problems are further compounded by its transitory nature, with a single fringe area often being shaped by multiple local authorities, each with different local development policies with limited cross boundary communication. The Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) helped cross such boundaries but there was widespread concern at their top-down imposition on local authorities leading to their ‘Pickling’ under the new administration. Now operating within a bottom-up localism approach, many authorities are simply working with Unitary Development Plans (UDP’s) and Local Development Plans (LDP’s) with no spatially specific national policy or strategic frameworks. Whilst the formation of Local Enterprise Partnerships may offer some potential, their role is seemingly constrained by its voluntary status and business-sectoral remit which inhibits any holistic approach to management; the lack of environmental representation being a case in point. The sustainable management of the fringe therefore presents real challenges in terms of reconciling competing land uses and stakeholder interests and it is becoming increasingly apparent that the fringe
  4. 4. struggles to fit within any rigid, quasi-legal structure of the current land use planning system. Indeed, Qvistrom (2007) identifies these “landscapes out of order” within a positive assessment as sometimes innovative new land uses and changes defy the way we tend to regulate and order space through conventional planning policies. Can the fringe be reconceptualised as an area for adaptive management and innovation within a rural-urban fringe (RUF) perspective that challenges the established urban centric view? For example, the incredible-edible initiative at Todmorden illustrates the potential for farming in fringe locations within a localism type initiative2 . Such land use doesn’t fit our conventional use class order nor current planning rules. However, if we assess the contribution and potential of such schemes through the lens of ecosystems services, we can start to identify the value and contribution of such initiatives within our spatial planning frameworks. This convergence of spatial planning with ecosystem services provides an interesting shift in direction across different government departments (Defra and CLG) within which we might change the way we value, manage and plan in the RUF; the focus moving from place to interrelationships, dependencies and services set within strategic-led assessments. This move to an assessment of the RUF environment in relation to different stakeholder perspectives on the goods and services that nature provides for society heralds a framework in planning to connect the majority of the human population, living in urban environments with their wider (natural) environment. This resonates strongly with spatial planning theory which moves away from the regulatory fix of traditional land use systems to plan spaces and places in a more integrated manner: connecting planning issues across the different scales and different sectors to develop more pro-active and positive policies (Opdam et al, 2002). However, these ideas have yet to percolate through much planning practice, as many planners remain trapped in their sectoral bondage (Taylor, 2010). As part of this research we therefore undertook comparative reviews of spatial planning and ecosystem services literatures’ and have identified four key themes3 which in our view are only partially addressed in practice and are deemed central to improved management of the RUF. The rest of the paper unpacks these themes drawing on a series of workshops held between November-April 2011. 1. The convergence of Spatial Planning and Ecosystem Services in the RUF 2. Long Termism and Temporality in the RUF 3. Partnerships in grey, Green and Blue Infrastructure Planning in the RUF 4. Contested l Values and Decision Making in the RUF 2 Incredible Edible http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/ 3 The research is evolving and since the submission of the abstract you will note a subtle change in themes to incorporate an enhanced role for infrastructure planning. Comment [AS1]: These themes will form the core of my paper at Seattle.
  5. 5. Conclusion The RUF is a unique space, with important values to users from both urban and rural areas. however the current planning system seems unable to manage these values in an effective way. The potential benefits of ecosystem service criteria being incorporated into spatial planning seem a useful way forward, and when better to do this than when the current planning system is facing an overhaul. References. Armitage, D.R., Plummer, R., Berkes, F., Arthur, R.I., Charles, A.T., Davidson-Hunt, I.J., Diduck, A.P., Doubleday, N.C., Johnson, D.S. , Marschke,M., McConney, P. , Pinkerton, E.W and Wollenberg, E.K. (2009) Adaptive co-management for social–ecological complexity, Frontiers Ecology Environment 7(2): 95–102, Bovill, P. (2002) Loosening the green belt Regeneration and Renewal p12 Clark G (2011) Sustainable development through local empowerment: The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Annual Lecture CPRE, London 10 February Elson, M. (1986) Green Belts: Conflict Mediation in the Urban Fringe; Heinemann, London Friedberger, M. (2000) The rural–urban fringe in the late twentieth century. Agricultural History, 74 (2), 502–514. Friedland, W. H. (2002) Agriculture and Rurality: Beginning the ‘Final Separation’? Rural Sociology 67(3), 350–371 Gallent, N.,Shoard, M., Andersson, J., Oades, R. and Tudor, C. (2004) Inspiring England's urban fringes: multi-functionality and planning, Local Environment, 9 (3) 217-233 Gallent, N., Bianconi, M. and Andersson, J. (2006) Planning on the edge: England's rural-urban fringe and the spatial-planning agenda, Environment and Planning B, 33, 457-476 Gant, R.L., Robinson, G.M and Fazal, S. (2011) Land-use change in the ‘edgelands’: Policies and pressures in London’s rural–urban fringe. Land Use Policy (2010), doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2010.06.007 Griffiths, J. (1994) The last frontier, Planning Week, 17 March, pp. 14–15. Haines-Young, R. and Potschin, M. (2007): The Ecosystem Concept and the Identification of Ecosystem Goods and Services in the English Policy Context. Review Paper to Defra, Project Code NR0107, 21pp. Millennium Ecosystem approach (2003) Ecosystems and Human Well-being. Washington (DC): Island Press. Micarelli, R. & Pizzioli, G.(2008) Metropolitan and rural areas: Interscapes as Interfaces? International Journal of Environmental Research, 2 (1 ) 1-12 McKenzie, F. (1997) 'Growth Management Or Encouragement? A Critical Review Of Land Use Policies Affecting Australia'S Major Exurban Regions', Urban Policy and Research, 15: 2, 83 — 99 Opdam, P. Foppen, R. and Vos, C. (2002) Bridging the gap between ecology and spatial planning in landscape Ecology, Landscape Ecology, 16, 767-779 Qviström, M. 2007. Landscapes out of order: studying the inner urban fringe beyond the rural – urban divide, Geografiska annaler series B, vol. 89, pp. 269 – 282. Qviström, M. 2010. “Shadows of planning: revealing inherited ambiguities at the urban fringe”, Geografiska annaler ser B, 92, 219 - 235. Scott AJ , Gilbert A., and Gelan A. (2008) The Urban Rural Divide: Myth or Reality, SERG Policy Brief (2) Aberdeen: Macaulay Institute Sharp, J.S and Clark J.K. (2008) Between the Country and the Concrete: Rediscovering the Rural-Urban Fringe, City and Community 7 (1) 61-79
  6. 6. Shoard, M., 2002. Edgelands. In: Jenkins, J. (Ed.), Remaking the Landscape: The Changing Face of Britain. Profile Books, London, pp. 117–146. Sullivan W.C and Lovell, S.T. (2006) Improving the visual quality of commercial development at the rural–urban fringe, Landscape and Urban Planning, 77, 152-166 Taylor, N V(2010) What is this thing called spatial planning? An analysis of the British government's view, Town Planning Review, 81 (2) 193-208 Weaver, D.B. and Lawton, L.J. (2001) Resident perceptions in the urban-rural fringe, Annals of Tourism Research 28 (2) 439-458 Whitehand, J.W.R. and Morton, N. (2004) Urban morphology and planning: the case of fringe belts, Cities, 21 (4), 275-289