Shrinking cities and growing regions â€“ emerging trends of new rural-urban relationships in the UK and Germany
Andreas Schulze BĂ¤ing
In: AESOP 2005; 13 Jul 2005-17 Jul 2005; Vienna. 2005.
The main aim of this paper is to discuss and compare new emerging economic relationships between growing rural and shrinking urban areas in England and Germany. Furthermore the paper intends to bring together the contemporary rural development and policy discussion and the current â€śshrinking citiesâ€ť debate that evolved in recent years. The paper is based on evidence from two examples: the Ruhrgebiet in North Rhine-Westphalia and the Manchester-Liverpool conurbation in the North-West of England. The cores of both regions faced de-industrialisation and depopulation on a large scale in recent decades. While these processes started much earlier in the Liverpool-Manchester conurbation, prognoses for the Ruhr indicate that large scale population shrinking processes in some of the regions districts are still to come. At the same time some parts of the rural hinterland of both regions show significant population growth, often referred to as counter-urbanisation. On the economic side the importance of agriculture as a main economic base for these rural areas is diminishing. The economic structure is nowadays quite similar comparing these rural areas and the urban cores. Furthermore new types of businesses have started to grow in rural locations, not just in traditional small scale manufacturing but also increasingly in service sector industries. The paper will discuss in how far this â€śnew rural economyâ€ť does still depend on the shrinking cores of the conurbation and what this means for rural-urban relationships. The planning systems in Germany and Britain differ quite significantly. A formalised system of spatial planning on a regional level has been in place in Germany for several decades while this level of spatial planning for the region as part of the devolution agenda is quite new in the UK. On the other hand local authorities in Germany have a far reaching right of autonomy, also regarding planning and development policy, while the British planning system was until recently quite centralised and is more restrictive regarding development in rural areas. So beyond describing the changes of rural-urban relationships in the two regions the paper will also discuss how planning policies in urban and rural districts but also on the regional level deal with these emerging processes of shrinking, growing and changing rural-urban relationships. Discussing these processes and the related policy responses might also be interesting for many regions in Central and Eastern Europe, as similar developments might be expected in the future there as well. The paper is partly based on work about rural-urban relationships in the North-West of England financed by the North-West Development Agency. Furthermore the author is participating in the project â€śshrinking citiesâ€ť (organized by archplus and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation) and has previous experiences from the project â€śRuhr 2030 â€“ Region of Citiesâ€ť, part of the City 2030 project.