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  • Whose fringe is it anyway: prospects and opportunities for integrated management of theurban- rural fringe.Alister Scott, Professor of Spatial Planning and Governance Birmingham City University.Abstract:The spaces where countryside meets town are often amongst societys most valued places yet, arguably, lacksufficient understanding and integrated management.. What is this fringe or edge space? How is it changing andwhy? 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 islocated within a hybrid conceptual framework. Emerging concepts from the intersection of spatial planning andecosystem service paradigms have been identified and applied within a series of focussed briefs unpacking thepotential and opportunities for management of the fringe. Set within an emerging discourse of rapidly changingenvironmental governance in the UK, community environmental planning, valuation and decision making and longterm environmental planning provide the foci for two case studies to identify and evaluate management issuesand needs in particular places. From these, strategic principles are promulgated to shape an interdisciplinaryspatial model for fringe management. It is concluded that fringe areas provide an important test arena withinwhich to study environmental change through multi-scalar and multi-temporal perspectives and it is clear, in anEnglish context that there is a significant policy disjuncture with the contemporary thrust on localism whilst thisresearch identifies the need for more regional scales of working and understandingPreludeThis paper seeks to champion the opportunity space provided at the fringe; the space where townmeets countryside or vice versa. This zone, fringe or edge has been much neglected and associatedpredominately with negative vocabulary and attitudes within urban-centric models of expansion. Butdrawing on research that converges around spatial planning and ecosystem services ideas, we seek toshow how this space can be re-imagined pro-actively in pursuit of wider environmental and societalgoals. The thrust of this paper will draw inspiration from a series of recent workshops held fromNovember 2010 –April 2011 as part of a wider RELU1 project looking at the management of the ruralurban fringe. In all some 200 specialists crossing traditional disciplinary and professional boundarieshave contributed. Due to the ongoing nature of this the paper will be using a preliminary contentsanalysis 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 for1 RELU= Rural Economy and Land Use Programme. www.relu.ac.uk
  • 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 8thIntroductionThe zone where urban meets rural is ubiquitous yet highly diverse across the UK. Arguably the fringenow 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’ andtransitory 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 etal, 2010); a new geography of urban sprawl (Micarelli and Pizzioli, 2008); the ‘last frontier’ (Griffiths1994) –ephemeral landscapes (Qvistrom 2010) and edgelands (Shoard, 2002); reflect the highly potentacademic contribution . Collectively, they all raise an implicit ‘otherness’, reflecting not only the natureof 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 ofdemands such as housing, retail development, recreation and waste management which are constrainedby 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, rapidlyimplemented drivers of change such as supermarket chains, housing developers and other large scaleinfrastructure. Indeed, it is this faster pace and large-scale nature of change that differentiates thisspace and, given the range of interests affected, can engender significant local contestation (Weaverand Lawton, 2001: Freiberger, 2000; Friedland, 2002). Nevertheless, presenting any simple stereotypeof 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 anyattention has been given to the needs of the place itself and those people who live and workthere(Sharp and Clark, 2008). Essentially it is space waiting for something “better” to happen. This goes
  • against the spirit and purpose of ‘spatial planning’ which seeks to marry multi-scalar and multi-sectoralconsiderations within a strategic framework . Furthermore, these spaces have a wide range ofecosystem 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 thepotential 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 wholesalechanges 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 fringeis huge, squaring the need for better strategic management within a localism agenda presents asignificant planning conundrum.Not surprisingly policy has consistently struggled to adapt to the rapidly changing nature ofdevelopment 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 localdevelopment 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 localauthorities leading to their ‘Pickling’ under the new administration. Now operating within a bottom-uplocalism approach, many authorities are simply working with Unitary Development Plans (UDP’s) andLocal Development Plans (LDP’s) with no spatially specific national policy or strategic frameworks. Whilstthe formation of Local Enterprise Partnerships may offer some potential, their role is seeminglyconstrained by its voluntary status and business-sectoral remit which inhibits any holistic approach tomanagement; the lack of environmental representation being a case in point.The sustainable management of the fringe therefore presents real challenges in terms of reconcilingcompeting land uses and stakeholder interests and it is becoming increasingly apparent that the fringe
  • 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 sometimesinnovative new land uses and changes defy the way we tend to regulate and order space throughconventional planning policies. Can the fringe be reconceptualised as an area for adaptive managementand innovation within a rural-urban fringe (RUF) perspective that challenges the established urbancentric view? For example, the incredible-edible initiative at Todmorden illustrates the potential forfarming in fringe locations within a localism type initiative2. Such land use doesn’t fit our conventionaluse class order nor current planning rules. However, if we assess the contribution and potential of suchschemes through the lens of ecosystems services, we can start to identify the value and contribution ofsuch initiatives within our spatial planning frameworks. This convergence of spatial planning withecosystem 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 focusmoving from place to interrelationships, dependencies and services set within strategic-ledassessments.This move to an assessment of the RUF environment in relation to different stakeholder perspectives onthe goods and services that nature provides for society heralds a framework in planning to connect themajority 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 oftraditional land use systems to plan spaces and places in a more integrated manner: connectingplanning issues across the different scales and different sectors to develop more pro-active and positivepolicies (Opdam et al, 2002). However, these ideas have yet to percolate through much planningpractice, 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 ecosystemservices literatures’ and have identified four key themes3 which in our view are only partially addressedin practice and are deemed central to improved management of the RUF. The rest of the paper unpacksthese 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 Comment [AS1]: These themes will form the core of my paper at Seattle.2Incredible 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 toincorporate an enhanced role for infrastructure planning.
  • ConclusionThe RUF is a unique space, with important values to users from both urban and rural areas. howeverthe current planning system seems unable to manage these values in an effective way. The potentialbenefits of ecosystem service criteria being incorporated into spatial planning seem a useful wayforward, 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 p12Clark G (2011) Sustainable development through local empowerment: The Campaign to Protect RuralEngland (CPRE) Annual Lecture CPRE, London 10 FebruaryElson, M. (1986) Green Belts: Conflict Mediation in the Urban Fringe; Heinemann, LondonFriedberger, 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),350–371Gallent, N.,Shoard, M., Andersson, J., Oades, R. and Tudor, C. (2004) Inspiring Englands urban fringes:multi-functionality and planning, Local Environment, 9 (3) 217-233Gallent, N., Bianconi, M. and Andersson, J. (2006) Planning on the edge: Englands rural-urban fringe andthe spatial-planning agenda, Environment and Planning B, 33, 457-476Gant, R.L., Robinson, G.M and Fazal, S. (2011) Land-use change in the ‘edgelands’: Policies and pressuresin London’s rural–urban fringe. Land Use Policy (2010), doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2010.06.007Griffiths, 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 EcosystemGoods 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): IslandPress.Micarelli, R. & Pizzioli, G.(2008) Metropolitan and rural areas: Interscapes as Interfaces? InternationalJournal of Environmental Research, 2 (1 ) 1-12McKenzie, F. (1997) Growth Management Or Encouragement? A Critical Review Of Land UsePolicies Affecting AustraliaS Major Exurban Regions, Urban Policy and Research, 15: 2, 83 — 99Opdam, P. Foppen, R. and Vos, C. (2002) Bridging the gap between ecology and spatial planning inlandscape Ecology, Landscape Ecology, 16, 767-779Qviström, 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 InstituteSharp, J.S and Clark J.K. (2008) Between the Country and the Concrete: Rediscovering the Rural-UrbanFringe, City and Community 7 (1) 61-79
  • 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 commercialdevelopment at the rural–urban fringe, Landscape and Urban Planning, 77, 152-166Taylor, N V(2010) What is this thing called spatial planning? An analysis of the British governments view,Town Planning Review, 81 (2) 193-208Weaver, D.B. and Lawton, L.J. (2001) Resident perceptions in the urban-rural fringe, Annals of TourismResearch 28 (2) 439-458Whitehand, J.W.R. and Morton, N. (2004) Urban morphology and planning: the case of fringe belts,Cities, 21 (4), 275-289