Cities are constantly changing and growing. There is much pressure on the greenbelt from urban sprawl. This can be seen in the diagram below.
There are several reasons for the growth in development at the edge of the city on the rural/urban fringe.
Decentralisation of offices
Some offices are relocating to business parks on the outskirts of the city beside main roads for access. They are moving to take advantage of the cheaper land with room to expand. The unpolluted environment in the countryside helps to attract a highly skilled workforce. However, this relocation contributes to urban sprawl and land use conflicts with rural land users, eg farmers.
Many main roads, motorways and train lines link the suburbs with the city centre to allow commuters easy access to work, shopping and entertainment. Park and ride schemes have been particularly important to enable people to travel to events without taking their cars, eg football matches and arena concerts.
From the 1960's onwards, new towns, eg East Kilbride, and council estates like Castlemilk, were built on greenfield sites on the outskirts of the city to combat overcrowding in the inner city slums. New housing developments continue to add to the problem of urban sprawl today. Small villages like Clarkston have now been swallowed up by the Glasgow city boundary and farming villages like Eaglesham have been turned into commuter settlements.
New industry and new business districts
Industrial estates, retail parks, large supermarkets and shopping centres are located on the edge of the city. They take advantage of the cheaper land, room for expansion, access links and nearby population for labour and a market. However, these developments increase urban sprawl and put pressure on the greenbelt. The impact of these developments is a decrease in farmland and a loss of wildlife habitat.
Changes at the urban rural fringe
Demand for housing
'For Sale' signs outside a house
Social and demographic [demographics: The study of population statistics. It measures trends and tracks changes in births, deaths and migration. ] changes are leading to a greater demand for housing. People are living longer, and choosing to marry later, and in recent years there has been a rise in the number of single-parent families. Added to this, the UK is experiencing immigration from other countries, for example from Eastern Europe, as countries like Poland are now members of the EU. The result is an ever-larger number of smaller households, all requiring accommodation.
However, building new, affordable homes in urban areas is difficult. Land values are very high and land is in short supply.
Out of town retail centres
Regional shopping centres, such as Cribbs Causeway near Bristol, are often built on land in the urban rural fringe. Their location allows easy access to transport routes. There is also room for car parking. The land is cheaper here than in the city centre.
Hotels, conference centres and science parks
Modern technology gives firms a freer choice of location. Hi-tech industries [hi-tech industry: An industry which is on the cutting edge, for example Pharmaceuticals or electrical goods. ], located in science parks, are attracted by good transport links. The areas can offer pleasant landscaped environments, with less traffic problems and pollution.
Sewage works and landfill
Urban centres cannot dispose or treat their own waste as the land is limited. Therefore space is used outside of urban area.
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