2012 volume 39(3) pages 501 – 517
doi:10.1068/b37034

Cite as:
Powe N A, Bek D, 2012, "Localising activity within the context of relational complexity: exploring the relevance of rural centre and town centre conceptions" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 39(3) 501 – 517

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Localising activity within the context of relational complexity: exploring the relevance of rural centre and town centre conceptions

Neil Adrian Powe, Dave Bek

Abstract. The planning practice of focusing most rural development within larger settlements has failed to achieve goals of rural activity colocation. In a society where quality of opportunity has become dominant in location decisions, a broader imaginative perspective than the physical proximity of functions is required if meaningful activity colocation is to occur. The extent to which residents and employees can be encouraged to localise their activity is explored through case studies of three very different small towns within the English county of Norfolk. Although not of universal appeal, small towns provide an important niche for many rural actors. Rather than abandoning policy endeavours, there is potential to improve their effectiveness by ensuring that the possible benefits arising from the colocation of activity are realised. By adopting a more flexible approach to policy application, utilising complementary conceptions which are attentive to the specific characteristics of individual places, potential exceptions to policies of development concentration can be identified. However, in the UK context ongoing cutbacks in local authority budgets are likely to prejudice the conduct of the type of fine-grained local policy development required to achieve these objectives.
Keywords: small towns, activity colocation, localising activity, rural centre, town centre

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