Housing Development - Sample Answer

Unit G2 Ė Human Geography Ė Rural Settlement



Figure 1.  Dickenís Heath, Solihull.  A planned settlement in the rural-urban fringe.


Source: KDG Photos



a)     Use figure 1 to explain why land in the rural-urban fringe is often developed to meet government housing targets.


Filtering is the process by which social groups move from one residential area to another with increased wealth, they also tend to move further rural, thus creating demand for housing in the rural-urban fringe. As with Dickenís Heath, the council are happy to offer this new housing to help the government reach their 3million new homes by 2020. Other reasons why councils choose the rural-urban fringe is because it is cheaper to develop that land than brownfield sites as brownfield sites often need to be decontaminated from the previous land use, which is a large cost. Land in the rural-urban fringe is also very accessible, in Dickenís Heathís case it is very close to the M42, the land also offers flexibility with the shape and size of the development, unlike brownfield sites, which are dictated by the buildings around it. This can lead to greater efficiency of land use and no wasted land due to awkward shapes. Other reasons councils develop housing in the rural-urban fringe are that it is aesthetically pleasing and people would prefer to live there, also that it would boost local shops and businesses and possibly prevent the decline and deprivation of the area.  


b)     Evaluate the impact of housing development on the rural-urban fringe.


New housing developments in the rural-urban fringe can provide both benefits and negatives for the local area. Social impacts include better quality housing for the area, reducing the decline of the area, but this also brings with it more migration and a higher crime rate. There will also be a need for a new school, as is the case with Dickenís HeathPrimary School, which will also lead to a closer school for rural children so they donít need to travel so far to receive an education, this will also help environmentally as there will reduced carbon missions from the school run. More social impacts is the anger of original villagers who never wanted a town to be create in its place and the final social impact is the need for local health care such as a doctors, dentist, optician and chemist. Most of the social impacts are beneficial to the area, as are the economic impacts. Jobs are created for local construction worker to build the new houses as well all the other tradesmen like plumbers and electricians, which is good for the local area. Jobs will also be created in the local school and health facilities as well as previous businesses being boosted. A negative for the economy will be in the tourist trade, as the rural-urban fringe may loose its chocolate box rural image, deterring tourist to visit. Environmentally there are many negatives to new housing developments on the rural-urban fringe. Habits will be destroyed to make room for the houses, ruining food chains and possibly causes further destruction to wildlife elsewhere. Deforestation may also be necessary which will decrease the lag time, coupled with the increased surface run off due to concreting, could increase the risk of floods in the rural-urban fringe. The worsened carbon cycle due to deforestation and the increased pollution and commuting from the increased population of the area could contribute to climate change.  The demographic impacts are negative as well as there will be increased migration of younger families who are quite affluent. This could cause social segregation within the area but also increase the birth rate due to the age of the women and also a decreased death rate due to the more youthful population and increased medical facilities, which overall will increase the population of the rural-urban fringe and could lead to a strain on resources. 


c)      Explain the changing social profile of rural settlements.


The social profile of rural settlements have changed over the least 30 Ė 50 years due to filtering and urban sprawl changing the requirements of the rural land. 50 years ago the rural settlements would have been farming towns and villages, like Great Tew, Oxfordshire was in the 1950s. The people that lived in Great Tew either worked on one of the 20 farms, was a farmerís wife or children, or they where the Lord of the Manor, who owned all of the land and houses. They would be receiving a modest income, under £3000, enough to support their family but not many luxuries. There would have been a large spread of ages within rural areas, old and young all working as much as they can to make life better. There may have been slightly more males within rural areas who have migrated to do manual work. The majority of the population will have a minimal education or have to travel a long way to receive an education. During the 1980s and 1990s the social profile would have changed in rural areas to become an ageing population as farming was in decline and the youth would have moved to the cities in hope of finding work and achieving a greater standard of life. Now in the 21st century the social profile of rural settlements have changed again. Great Tew and many other areas have become, at least to some degree commuter villages due to filtering. The average income of rural settlements have now increased as commuters receive city wages, not rural, many commute to London, Birmingham, Banbury and Oxford. Less people now work in farming, due to the EU Common Agricultural Policy reducing the profitability of farming in the UK. In Great Tew the 20 farms have amalgamated to become just 3, reducing the numbers who work in farming, Farms have also diversified to attract tourists. In Great Tew they make and sell their own pate and honey. The age distribution has also changed, as younger families have migrated there, rural settlements have now become a younger population, requiring the local school to reopen Ė creating jobs for teachers who are mainly women. This gender imbalance is then rebalanced by the continual migration of craftsmen like thatchers and  blacksmiths to the areas. Rural settlements have changed their social profile to become farming, tourist and commuter villages Ė not just farming villages like they were 50 years ago.