Contentious Global Issues
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Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 3: Defining ‘Urban’: The Disappearing Urban–Rural Divide
3 Deﬁning ‘urban’: the disappearing urban–rural divide A.G. Champion Introduction For those concerned with urban policy, it is axiomatic that there should be an understanding of, and indeed agreement about, what the ‘urban’ refers to and, equally, what urban policy is not designed for. The traditional approach takes this dichotomous form using a place-based classiﬁcation, with separate policy packages being developed for the urban and the rural parts of national territories. Yet, even in the early days of land use planning, it was recognized that there was no clear divide between the two, as, for instance, in the successive Town and Country Planning Acts in Britain from 1947. Indeed, a major goal of such measures around the world appears to have been the reversal of the ‘blurring’ tendency, with particular attention being given to curbing urban sprawl. On the other hand, even where building controls have achieved some success in maintaining an urban–rural contrast in physical terms, many of the other distinctions between urban and rural areas have continued to fade. This chapter has two main objectives: ﬁrst, to describe and account for the ‘blurring’ process that is leading to the disappearance of the urban–rural divide and, second, to discuss what this means for the development and implementation of policies that are speciﬁcally urban in design and coverage. It begins by brieﬂy setting the context for the disappearance of the divide, focusing on the ‘urban transition’ and the associated erosion of the ‘rural’....
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