The transformation of English market towns: gentrification
thesisposted on 02.04.2012, 13:12 by Craig James Wheway
Gentrification has been seen to be a predominantly urban process, characterised by wholesale replacement of working class communities by a mobile middle-class population (Glass, 1964). More recently, contributions have acknowledged that gentrification is taking place further down the hierarchy of urban settlements with Neil Smith (2002) noting that gentrification is expanding both vertically, upwards and downwards through the settlement hierarchy (from cities to provincial cities, Dutton 2003; 2005 to smaller towns) and horizontally across the globe. English market towns, this thesis argues, have become part of what Hackworth and Smith (2001) term the third wave of gentrification with the state ‘entangled’ in the process of gentrification. This can be seen through the encouragement of regeneration in market towns, initiated through the 2001 Market Towns Initiative (MTI) that sought to regenerate ailing market towns within England. The service role of these rural towns has been seen as crucial to anchoring key services that service the wider rural hinterlands in which market towns serve (Powe and Shaw, 2004) The central argument of this thesis is that market towns are now at the leading edge of rural restructuring. Many types of market town gentrifier have been identified, specifically mature, ‘geriatrifiers’ who reside in the remote market towns and had past service class working lives via professional and managerial employment and secondly, professional/managerial gentrifiers, identified previously in rural villages (Phillips, 1993) who were using market towns as bases to commute and raise a family. Unlike previous narrative concerning gentrification, this middle class incursion was physically reflected through new build developments that have been targeted at market towns.