Town Planning Review

Housing development in market towns: Making a success of 'local service centres'?

Town Planning Review (2008), 79, (1), 125–148.

Abstract

Market towns play an important role within their rural areas as providers of services, particularly for those who are less mobile. Recent trends have led to an increase in the number of rural residents who shop and enjoy entertainment within larger urban areas, challenging the existence of services within market towns. Despite these trends, housing expansion at least provides hope that this will provide new trade for town services. Whether this hope can be realised in practice has not been widely researched. Through detailed surveys within four market towns in two very different regions, this article considers the extent to which population growth supports their important rural service-centre role. The results suggest that housing expansion can help maintain these towns by enhancing trade for retail, and that this potential can be best realised using a selective approach, choosing towns with good services (or at least the potential for this). This article considers the effect of location with respect to other urban areas. However, housing development will need to be supplemented by other measures to improve trade.

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Powe, Neil

Gunn, Susannah