Suburbanisation Case Study Bicester


Suburbanisation in U.K. and Counter Urbanisation inthe Rural – Urban Fringe.

Suburbanisation extends the size of the continuous urban area.

Suburbanisation is at its greatest where urban growth is at it greatest.

In the U.K. this means around London and in the south east.

Because of the pressure this puts on the Green Belt this growth is a burning issue particularly since ithas been estimated that we will need a further 1.1 million homes in the region by 2016.

Towns outside the Green Belt and close to the south east region are also feeling the pressure and arethemselves undergoing Suburbanisation: eg. Bicester, which is projected to grow from 25,000 to38,000 between 2001 and 2011.

Counter urbanisation.

Counter urbanisation differs from sub urbanisation in that there is a clear break between areas of newgrowth and the existing urban areas.

It leads to growth which is detached from existing urban areas either in the urban rural fringe or inthe rural areas beyond

By increasing the numbers of people living in rural settlements and the size of rural settlements,suburbanisation of the coutryside occurs.

It blurs the distinction between urban and rural.

It occurs most in MEDCs.

It is more than just an overflow of people to the countryside who then become commuters back totheir city jobs. Jobs have moved as well as the result of de-industrialisation.

Rural areas and small towns have gained more than a million jobs, with companies following theirworkers to the countryside.

Footloose industrial freedom has been gained by technological advances, so that a home computerlinked workstation in a village can share global communications

Affects of couter urbanisation:

It affects the form and layout of rural settlements.

Modern housing estates attach themselves to the edge of settlements

Small industrial units may also grow alongside main roads in and out of the village.

Open areas are infilled

Old properties are modernised or converted from barns into homes

Socio-economic changes happen as newcommers bring their urban wealth and attitudes with them

New attitudes often don’t match the rural interests of the local community.

Village growth can reduce village services because newcomers have the mobility to continue to use theurban services instead of the village’s, probably because they are cheaper and have a better range.

Cost of housing rise sharply because newcomers are wealthier, putting housing ouit of reach of localswho have to move away.

Symptoms of decline in Rural Areas since 2000

The numbers working in farming have halved since 1945

Three quarters of rural parishes no longer have a daily bus

Up to half of villages no longer have a school

One quarter of villages are now without a post office

During the last ten years over 1000 shops, 500 post offices and 100 churches and chapels closed downin villages

Suburbanisation: characteristics, causes and effects.

Suburbanisation can be defined as the outward growth of urban development which may engulf surrounding villages and towns into a larger urban agglomeration.  Indeed, the suburbs are the outlying areas of a city which are close enough to the city centre to be accessible by commuters. Essentially it is a part of urbanisation, in that it increases the proportion of people that live in towns and cities in comparison to those in rural areas.  As suburbs grow they attract both people from rural areas AND people from Inner city and CBD areas, who are attracted by the greater amount of space within the suburb.  Suburbanisation results in the physical spreading of a city into surrounding countryside areas, known as URBAN SPRAWL, and this puts pressure on greenfield sites and on nature.  In Britain the suburbs are predominantly residential in nature and have often rural characteristics such as larger gardens and to tree-lined avenues.  However, Suburbanisation should not be limited to housing, as industries have also suburbanised.

Not all suburbs are the same, and there are several distinguishable types. Although many suburbs are populated by the urban middle class, they are not uniform in many respects.  The TIME when they were built, the planners that were involved and the physical surroundings of the environment can all influence the characteristics and layout of a suburb. During the industrial revolution, richer classes fled to suburbs away from industrial areas, living in large terraced town houses (e.g. Jesmond in Newcastle is North of the city and well away from the old industrial areas south along the river).  During the interwar period plot sizes where ample and semidetached housing was favoured in many locations, High Heaton in Newcastle is a good example of this.    Recreational facilities, local shops and low building densities were characteristic features.  More recently land prices have risen and land is at a premium as population grows in Britain, so building densities have increased and many modern suburbs include flats and taller town houses with smaller gardens.  Cunning developers can also market detached houses with little space between the buildings.

Suburban house building has also been affected by transport and communication innovations - continuing improvements of arterial routes to the city centre, the development of underground railways, tram lines, etc. have all affected the suburbs and their development.  All of these factors mean that suburbs may actually be quite varied in their size and type of housing.  Newcastle Great Park, for example, is perfectly placed alongside the A1 in Newcastle.

These patterns are further complicated in Britain because we have huge social housing projects (council housing) that have provided affordable housing  for low income people, also in suburban locations.

In addition, it should be considered that suburbs in Britain are not the same as suburbs in other European cities and suburbs in the USA and Australia.  These tend to be much lower density and increase dependency upon the car.  You can read more about these types of suburb here.

Positives and negatives of suburbs:



Inner city

Suburbs mean that there is less need for high-rise, high-density housing, such as in deindustrialised areas of Newcastle, leading to clearance and replacement by low-rise, low-density housing.  This is better for residents/

The greater availability of space created by clearance of inner city areas allows for  improved communication networks

Derelict land can be cleared in the Inner city allowing for increased opportunity for environmental improvement of that land to create recreational open spaces.

Suburbanisation can lead to the decline of inner city areas as skilled people and businesses move away.

This means that the suburbanisation of jobs leads to employment opportunities, leading to lower employment opportunities which leads to a spiral of decline.

Communities are split up and damaged as people migrate out to the suburbs.

Suburbanisation means that more buildings are left vacant.  These buildings might be dangerous, look bad and stop people investing in the area (inward investment).

The large income gaps between suiburb and inner city lead to polarisation and resentment.

Rural urban fringe

The local tax base increases which means that councils can afford to develop new facilities and services in the expanding suburbs.

As wealthy people move in there is increasing demand for recreational facilities such

as golf courses and gyms

Wealthy people also want to shop, and in Britain this has created demand for retailing which has resulted in the development of retail parks at the edge of the city

There are increasing employment opportunities in offices and shops such as at Baliol Business park in Longbenton

Land increases in price as demand increases at the city edge.

The green belt, designed to limit city growth, is put under increasing pressure

There is increased commuting therefore increased congestion and pollution.

Decay of local village community atmosphere

The city increases in size as the demand for low density housing increases.


Suburbanisation In Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Suburbanisation is a big issue in the UK because it is a reasonably small country in terms of surface area which has a large and growing population (the ONS thinks we could hit 70million people in 2033). This gives Britain a high population density, particularly in the South of the country. The result of this is housing shortages and high property prices. The number of households has risen by 30% in the UK since 1971 and in part this is because more and more people live on their own. This is coupled with rising life expectancies and high levels of immigration, all combining to produce a housing shortage. The government would like to build 240,000 houses every year until 2016 to stop this shortage and stabilise house prices, but WHERE SHOULD THESE HOUSES BE BUILT?

There are 2 possibilities, on brownfield sites or on greenfield sites.

Green belt– a tract of open land consisting of farmland woodland, and open recreational areas surrounding urban areas. They are protected by law from new building, unless the government deems it necessary to build there.
Greenfield site– a term used to describe any area of land that has not been developed previously.
Brownfield site– an old industrial or inner city site that is cleared for a new building development.

Advantages of building in Greenfield sites

Advantages of building on Brownfield sites

1) There is no need to clean up the site from previous land uses therefore can work out cheaper.
2) Existing road networks are not in place so don't restrict planning
3) They are often on the edges of cities where land is cheaper
4) Planners and architects have a blank canvas to work with
5) More space is available for gardens
6) The edge of city countryside environment can appeal to buyers and businesses.
7) Sites on the edge of the city are often close to major motorways providing great access

1) It is more sustainable as existing developed land is being used
2) They stop city expansion as they are already within the city - this stops the loss of countryside and reduces journey times as the city is more compact
3) Road networks already exist, as do electricity and gas networks, although these may need updating
4) It is easier to gain planning permission as councils are keen to reuse the brownfield sites.
5) The sites are closer to the CBD for shopping and job opportunities


Building in the green belt on undeveloped green field sites is a very controversial and contentious issue. Population growth in the UK, the trend towards smaller family units and the demand for people to live at the edge of the city has put incredible pressure on the countryside surrounding all of our major cities. In addition, the fact that land is cheaper and often more accessible at the edge of the city has meant that Light industry (e.g. Atmel at Silverlink), High Tech Industry (e.g. Sage at Newcastle Great Park) and retail (e.g. the Metro Centre) like to locate there. But should we be building in these areas? The positives of brownfield and greenfield sites are shown above.


One such controversial scheme was developed at the Northern Edge of Newcastle upon Tyne, at Newcastle Great Park.

A study of edge of city developments – NewcastleGreatPark

Newcastle Great Parkis a major housing and commercial development that has been built on a Greenfield site (land that has never been built upon before) within the greenbelt (an area of land that is protected by law from development) ofNewcastle. It is located in the north of Newcastle next to Gosforth and the government gave special permission for this development to go ahead. There are many different interest groups who think the development should go ahead including the developers (Persimmons homes), the government and the council and some home owners. Conservationists and environmentalists, some home owners and some urban planners think the scheme is a bad idea.

Arguments for NGP

Arguments against NGP

1.2,500 new homes in a parkland setting of 442 hectares will be complete. Useful for richer residents and generating income for the developers.

2.There will be 80 hectares of commercial development which could generate jobs. Already, the £50m headquarters for Newcastle computer group Sage have been completed. It is expected the software firm's 575,000 sq ft building headquarters will provide jobs for 1,500 workers within two years.

3.There is an integrated transport plan which will see every home not more than 400 metres from a bus stop, 27km of cycle routes in and around NGP, a discount cycle purchase scheme for residents and a car share database on the Internet.

4.A full time ranger will be employed to manage the country park to ensure local wildlife conservation

5.The development lies adjacent to the A1, which will be widened and improved, and is within easy reach of the airport, providing excellent opportunities for national and international travel.

6.It is hoped that the scheme will slow down the net loss of 1,500 people per year who migrate from Newcastle.

1. The three-storey properties priced from £188,000 are well beyond the average wage of people in Newcastle.

2. Environmentalists are concerned about the impact upon Red Squirrel (an endangered species) and deer populations which inhabit this area North of Newcastle.

3. The NGP housing plans contradict the principles of no/little development in the Green Belt. The greenbelt was designed to prevent urban sprawl into countryside areas which have recreation and agricultural uses.

4. There is space for around 20,000 high quality homes on brownfield sites near to the city centre in the East and West end of the city. These areas (e.g. Scotswood, Benwell and Byker) are in decline since the loss of the shipping industry and are in need of a boost.

5. There is no guarantee of job creation.

6. Traffic volumes in Gosforth and Newcastle city centre will increase.

  1. Improving inner-city areas could slow down out migration.

0 Thoughts to “Suburbanisation Case Study Bicester

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *