Sam Larlham World Cities: Decentralisation
To what extent do you agree with the statement: ‘Decentralisation has been the dominant force in the UK in the past 50 years’? (40 marks)
Decentralisation is the movement of people, money, and businesses out of central areas. This essay will show how the factors of suburbanisation, counter-urbanisation and out of town shopping centres have contributed to decentralisation. However, it will also illustrate how processes such as urban regeneration and city centre renewal have worked against it.
Suburbanisation is the movement of people, money, and businesses from central areas to the rural-urban fringe. The process occurs predominantly due to inner-city decline, particularly relating to air pollution and crime. For example, 4300 people die in London every year due to respiratory diseases related to air pollution, and you are twice as likely to be a victim of violent crime there than anywhere else in the UK. This, combined with the Rural Idyll (the perception of a higher quality of life outside central areas; be that in the suburbs or small rural areas) is a major push factor for suburbanisation to areas such as Epsom Downs (on the outskirts of London), which left mostly low-income households in the run down inner city. This push factor led to an 11.9% population increase in Epsom Downs between 2009 and 2011, with the majority of new residents coming from London after 30% of the city based population moved to the rural-urban fringe in preceding decades. The migration stimulated housing demand that led to a significant increase in the wealth of the area; the average house price is over £100,000 more than that of the UK as a whole. This shows, in terms of the movement of people and money, how suburbanisation has contributed to decentralisation being a dominant force in the past 50 years. Moreover, it is particularly apparent that the trend of decentralisation applied mostly to wealthier households, as demonstrated by the cost of the areas they migrated to.