Reasons for Inner City Decline

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Economic Decline

There has been widespread movement of employemtn away from loarge conurbations to small urban or rural areas

Loss of traditional manufacturing in coal, steam power and rail based industry and the inner city contained most of these low productivity, unionised workforces. From 1960 to 81, 1.6million manufacturing jobs were lost in the inner city, 75% of job losses nationally

Growth of the service industry did not compensate for these losses as they did not require the same skills base

Deindustrialisation was accompanies by the expansion of employment in rural areas due to:

  • Changes in technology and space needed for manufacturing - there was a shortage of suitable land and premises in the inner city so investment moved from urban to rural locations.
  • Globalisation of production - causing  a decline in profits and increased competition. To remain competitive, companies were forced to acquire other companies, introduce new technology and move to new locations in the UK/Overseas
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Population Loss and Social Decline

In 30years, the UK's largest conurbation lost 35% of their population and migration was the key cause - many of these people were looking for better employment opportunities. This out movement led to a growth in small towns arounf the large conurbations and by the 1980's, a significant proportion of the out-migration from cities involved people moving to rural areas.

The key causes are changing residential prefernces, job growth and improvemnts in accessibility of suburban and rural areas, as well as the poor image of the inner city. These people tend to by younger, more affluent and more skilled/ambitious people

Economic decline often leds to social decline

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Poor physical Environment

THe enivroment is usually poor in the inner cities, with low quality housing, empty and derelcit propoerties/vacant factories and unsightly, overgrown wasteland. There are high levels of vandalism, graffiti and flytipping with few amenities such as parks, open spaces and play areas. Urban motorways, with flyovers, underpasses and networks of pedestrian walkways, contribute futher to the bleak concrete-dominated landscape

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Inner City High-Rise Developments

High-rise flats were a common feature of both inner city renewal and peripheral council estates in the 1960's and 70's. 

People hated them because:

  • They lacked community spirit
  • They were poorly ventilated and suffered from damp
  • They werre expensive to heat
  • The open spaces designed to develop community spirit did not belong to anyone so no-one cared for them and they were vandalised.
  • Poor design led to 'hidden' places where hooliganism and criminal activity took place

Cities were home to a combination of run-down old housing and unpoopular new housing - most councils have or are planning to demolish these flats

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Political Problems

The problems of inner city residents may have been marginalised politically as they have the lowest election turnouts in the UK, reflecting the degree to which people feel rejected. This has meant local people elect members of far-right parties such as the BNP to local councils. Urban regeneration policies have done little to relieve poverty.

In 2007, it emerged that local councils in Northern England and the Midlands were being encourages to demolish upto 4000houses a year (often inner city terrace housing) to meet government targets for new-builds. If they didn't, they faced budget cuts. Such moves are part of the Pathfinders regeneration scheme aimed to create 3 million homes by 2020. This requires demolition of old houses and clear financial incentives to facilitate clearance as opposed to repair

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Urban Decline Elsewhere: Peripheral Council Estate

From the 50-70s, local authorities built estates on the edges of urban areas to house overspill population and people who needed rehousing because of inner city slum clearance. The estates consisted of uniform council housing - semidetached, red brick, metal framed windows, a garden, limited garaging adn colour sequenced doors. There were also tower blocks and maisonettes made of prefabricated materials.

These types of housing were a cheap way for local authorities to meet housing demand. Planning controls were limited, and construction was done in great haste. However, the result was that communities the size of small towns were created on the outskirts of cities with no proper facilities or affordable transport links to the city centre or to places of work. 

During the 80s and 90s, the physical fabric and environmental quality of these estates deteriorated. Maintenence costs escalated to the point where demolition was the best option. THe houses and flats have not proved popular under the right-to-buy legislation, and so many are still rented. This means that such estates contain above average proportions or the more vulnerable groups in society. They have a range of social and economic problems

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