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Urban Resurgence

Urban resurgence: characteristics, causes and effects.

The rise of the motorcar and the cheapness of land at the edge of the city led to a rise in out of town shopping centres and the suburbanisation of people from the 1960's to 1980's. Shopping centres such as Meadowhall in Sheffield, Lakeside in Essex and the Metro Centre Gateshead all developed and posed a threat to city centre shopping. At the same time, a lack of investment in the CBD (central Business District) led to the dereliction of some buildings and a general decline in the shopping environment. In addition, city centres suffered from crowding, poor air quality, a crime ridden image and poor parking availability. There was genuine concern that many CBDs and inner cities would not survive and that we would experience the urban doughnut effect (also known as the Polo effect)

Urban Resurgence Initiatives

Initiatives were put into place in order to try and protect and revitalise the CBDs of many cities, this is known as urban resurgence. Urban resurgence, also known as reurbanisation, involves improving the social, economic and environmental fabric of inner-city areas by;

  1. Pedestrianisaton was one method - restricting motor vehicle access along shopping streets and allow shoppers to feel safe and have good air quality.
  2. CBD shopping centres were covered to prevent people being exposed to adverse weather - Eldon Square in Newcastle is a good example of this.
  3. Money was spent on the public realm - all of the street furniture and paving, to ensure that the shopping environment looks nice.
  4. Grants were made available to retailers to take on derelict buildings. This happened in Grainger Town in Newcastle.
  5. Investment was made in Gentrifying (making buildings look nice!) the outside of old and historic buildings, as happened along the Quayside area of Newcastle.
  6. Large scale clearance and rebuilding of areas – essentially starting again in the most deprived and derelict areas

Trinity Square

There are some major policy initiatives from the UK in the past 30 years that have resulted in many but not all British CBDs staged a revival as places to live, work and shop. Not all city centres have recovered in the same way, Newcastle’s CBD has been very successful in becoming a thriving place, but nearby Gateshead has suffered long periods of empty shops and low tenancy ratios (a recent revamp to the city centre may change this!). Many urban resurgence schemes are linked to urban policies since 1979 in the UK and are covered later.

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Posted by Rob Gamesby April 2020



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