Characteristics and Causes of Urban Decline

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Characteristics and causes of urban decline
Urban deprivation
Inequalities occur in all urban areas ­ there are enormous contrasts in wealth over small areas.
The wealthy and the poor seem to concentrate spatially ­ a form of social segregation. There are a
number of reasons for this:
Housing: developers, builders and planners tend to building on blocks of land with a
particular market in mind. Wealthier groups can choose where they live, paying premium
prices for houses well away from poor areas, with pleasing environments and services
such as quality schools and parks. The poorer groups have no choice and have to live
where they are placed in welfare housing, or where the rent is cheap.
Changing environments: housing neighbourhoods change over time. Houses that were
built for large families in Georgian and Victorian times are now too big for the average UK
family. Many have been converted into multi-let apartments for private renting to people
on low incomes. Conversely, former poor areas are being gentrified. The "right to buy"
legislation of the 198 transformed many council estates, as houses were built by their
occupant and improved.
The ethnic dimension: ethnic groups originally come to the country as new immigrants.
When they first arrive, they often suffer discrimination in the job market and may be
unemployed or employed in low paid jobs. They are only able to afford to buy cheap
housing or they have to rent privately. Therefore, newly arrived immigrants concentrate in
poor areas in the city, often clustered into multicultural areas. Such ethnic groupings tend
to persist into later generations.
Measuring inequalities:
By using primary data, quality of life in an area can be measured such as the quality, density and
condition of housing and the nature of the social and physical environment. Secondary data can
also be used, for example census data to assess deprivation levels. This may include poverty in
terms of low income, or shown by poor health or the lack of possessions e.g. cars. Usually, the
poorest areas suffer from multiple deprivation (social, environmental and economic).
Urban social exclusion refers to the problems faced by residents in areas of multiple deprivation.
These people are excluded from full participation in society by their social and physical
circumstances. In a city, inequality can cause lack of social cohesion and in extreme cases lead to
civil unrest. Governments have to address social injustices for SEEP reasons.
Type Measure
Social Incidence of crime
Fear of crime
Percentage on free school meals
Standards of health and access to health facilities
Standards of education
Physical Quality of housing
Level of pollution
Incidence of litter
Economi Access to leisure services, open spaces
c Access to employment
Level of income

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Percentage of single parents
Percentage of lone pensioners
Political Opportunities to participate in community life and influence
The inner city:
High population out-migration figures
Many boarded up shops
Many empty and derelict properties
The closing of schools, particularly primary schools and low levels of education
High levels of unemployment
High incidence of crime, vandalism and graffiti
Low levels of participation in local democracy
The causes of inner city decline
More than 4 million people live in the inner cities of the UK.…read more

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In 1994, the
inner cities of Britain had an unemployment rate 50% higher than the rest of the country.
Population loss and social decline
1951 ­ 1981, the UK's largest conurbations lost 35% of their population, mainly due to migration.
E.g. in the 1970s, there was a population decline of over 25% in the inner areas of Liverpool and
Manchester due to outmigration of people looking for better employment opportunities.…read more

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High rise flats were a common feature of both inner city renewal and peripheral council estates in
the 1960s and 1970s. Many were not well built and were hated due to:
Lack of community feel
Poorly ventilated and damp
Open spaces belonged to no one thus were vandalised
Poor design led to hidden places where hooliganism and criminal activity took place
Cities then were saddled with a nightmare combination of run-down old housing and unpopular
new housing.…read more

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Thus such estates
contain above average numbers of society's most vulnerable:
Low income households
The unemployed
The elderly living in poverty
They have a range of social and economic problems.…read more


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