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Market towns: Understanding and maintaining functionality

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Neil Adrian Powe, Trevor Hart


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Market or country towns play a crucial role in the functioning of rural and urban fields. However, faced with improvements in personal mobility and communication, and pressures from changes in the structure of their populations, their functionality is changing with their more traditional roles as service and employment centres being particularly challenged. As these traditional roles have contemporary relevance, in terms of reasons of social equity, economic viability and self-containment, this article considers the resultant challenges facing market towns. Using secondary data from over 200 towns, as well as more in-depth consideration of 11 case study towns, a framework of their functionality is developed from which challenges are explored. The results illustrate the complexity and diversity of such towns and the challenges faced in maintaining their functionality, providing a basis for comparison between towns, as well as a focus for policy development. The results suggest that although there is scope for planning policy to be more supportive to local need, support for the building of local capacity should be more realistic as to the time frame required for local capacity to develop.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Powe NA, Hart T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Town Planning Review

Year: 2008

Volume: 79

Issue: 4

Pages: 347-370

Print publication date: 01/01/2008

ISSN (print): 0041-0020

ISSN (electronic): 1478-341X

Publisher: Liverpool University Press


DOI: 10.3828/tpr.79.4.2


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