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Rural Evidence Research Centre - RE0202
To establish a Rural Evidence Research Centre based upon a consortium of academic organisations led by Professor John Shepherd, School of Geography, Birkbeck College, London. Other members of the consortium are : University of Aberystwyth (School of Management and Business), University of Sheffield (Department of Town and Regional Planning/School of Health and Related Research), Institute of Education (Centre for Longitudinal Studies), University of Birmingham (INLOGOV) and Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen (Centre for Transport Policy).
This consortium has come together in order (a) to meet DEFRA`s specific objectives (i.e. capacity building studies, longitudinal studies, research review and formulation, `call-off` and `horizon scanning facility and dissemination) and (b) to contribute to the development of new research into rural problems and policy. The group is highly evidence oriented in its approach and has the requisite data assembly and analysis skills in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Between them they have very large resources of data directly related to the concerns of this project. Two key resources to which we will have access and in the analysis of which we have specific expertise are (a) the detailed `settlement surfaces` that underpin the new rural/urban definition to be used by government and (b) the results of three main national longitudinal studies. All of the research carried out by the group is highly policy oriented.
The research the Consortium proposes to carry out (especially in the first year), is of different kinds and is hence will be used in different ways: position papers will be written and presented at seminars in order to formulate new medium term research projects; current research perspectives on, for example, land use change in rural areas, access to services and market towns, will be updated for new information (e.g. the 2001 Census, the revised IMD) and new research concerns; the secondary analysis of existing longitudinal studies will (for the first time) provide a rural perspective on these important national data and will form the context for DEFRA`s own proposed longitudinal studies; the high spatial resolution (100m grid) settlement surface framework for the new rural/urban definition will form the foundation for identifying rural area types (e.g. in a new rural transport provision typology) and for selecting/characterizing case study areas and associated survey results.
The consortium will be under the overall management of Professor John Shepherd (SERRL), who has 20 years experience of running a successful academic research centre and has project managed numerous studies for central and local government and other government agencies, private sector bodies and charitable organisations. Each member of the consortium will have a named person responsible overall for the work of that group. There will be regular management meetings in addition to the DEFRA Steering Group and detailed timeframes and stages for delivery of outputs will be established for each activity/project. The integrated nature of the research will be assured by having individuals from at least two of the specialisms represented by the Consortium directly involved in specific research projects.
The following points relate to the requirement set out in the responses to `purpose` and the studies which we see as necessary to its implementation. They should also be seen in the context of the philosophy and approaches set out in responses to `scientific context`.
Objective 1: Meeting DEFRA`s stated requirement and establishing the evidence framework for subsequent research.
Objective 1a : Capacity Building Studies
A full description of the proposed capacity building studies is given in Annex 1 to this section. We propose to build on the well established procedures of Smith and Beazley (Public Administration, 2000) in the sphere of (policy specific) urban regeneration projects adjusted for the rural environment. The research will consist of three case studies each spanning 9-10 months in each of the three years of the Centre`s life, followed by a major assessment of the overall research. It is likely that the substantive policy focus, detailed methodology and community interests will evolve during the life of the projects. The first case study could be planned early using Smith`s contacts in community, local and regional government in the South West.
Objective 1b : Advice on Establishing DEFRA`s Longitudinal Studies
So far as we understand from the DEFRA Research Strategy the longitudinal studies will be concerned with RWP evaluative issues. Designing and piloting such studies will require significant early input if they are to be completed within a timeframe that is useful to the further evolution of rural delivery policies. We have therefore identified this as an early priority in the work of the Centre and will involve, in the early months, frequent and close contact with the Department. We also propose to undertake secondary analyses of the wealth of existing data in the three major national longitudinal surveys which have so far received little attention from a rural perspective. Further information on this work is given in Annex 2.
Objective 1c : Initial Analyses of the 2001 Census using New Rural/Urban Definitions
We note that various analyses of the 2001 Census are proposed or being undertaken within the DEFRA Research Strategy. We propose that an early deliverable of the Centre should be both broad and more specific demographic studies that will underpin its longer term research agenda and build out of existing resources/analyses of its members. These will make extensive use of the new rural/urban definition (scheduled for delivery in October 2003 by the SERRL/Sheffield members as well as the new classification of wards, output areas and administrative areas. Links to other existing work being carried out by consortium members include the DEFRA rural productivity database, market towns and the rural transport operating conditions typology.
Objective 2 Developing the Centre`s Research Agenda.
An early objective of the Centre is to prepare the ground, in conjunction with the Department, for four new studies of the rural economy, the evolving rural settlement pattern, the life histories of people in rural areas and the health prospects of people in rural areas. The starting point for this research will be the writing of a series of seminar papers drawn from a wide range of sources - academic, DEFRA literature reviews, RWP review papers, relevant available papers from other Departments and research findings from within the participating institutions - to be presented and discussed with DEFRA officials with the aim of firming research objectives and approached. We see this as a rolling research development process as research conducted by Centre evolves. Five topics selected for development in the first phase are as follows.
Objective 2a : The Role and Potential of the Modelled Settlement Framework Underlying the New Rural/Urban Definition
One stream of the proposed research would involve developing the data and analytic infrastructure necessary to examine configurations of well-being and patterns of change which are typically obscured by analyses undertaken only at coarse scales. This stream would be designed to further our key analytical aims ie to explore variation in the rural constituency, and to examine dysfunction whether in relation to environmental sustainability, social exclusion or to broader concepts of sustainability embracing both.
Here we will develop studies of (a) service provision and access and (b) countryside capacity, housing, land use and sustainable development. Work is well advanced on the methodology to achieve these and discussions will, we suspect, be largely focused on the use of this methodology in specific policy applications. An example of the potential of the method is shown in Figure 1 which maps house prices at a very highly resolved geographic scale using the settlement/population surface developed for the rural/urban definitions work. Data at this resolution can be made to fit all current census/administrative frameworks.
Methodological bases are given in detail at Annex 3
Objective 2b : Social Capital, Local Competencies and the Rural Economy
DEFRA is currently undertaking or has commissioned work on the drivers and correlated of rural productivity at the level of administrative areas and wards. Current emphasis on social capital, embodied in networks, cultural milieu and favourable economic structures, draws attention to the factors involved in the development of rural areas that are locally based and which have bucked the trend to capitalise on the opportunities of increased global integration. Our research on the rural economy will, in the first phase, complement existing work and will be integrated with the capacity building and longitudinal studies work.
A focus on the distribution of gains and losses from rural development at the level of individuals and households will require a programme of re-analysis of existing ¡§micro¡¨ data sources, such as the General Household Survey, the Labour Force Survey, the Family Resources Survey and, to the extent that any analysis must address issues of economic and social transition, longitudinal sources such as the British Household Panel Survey. This work will require careful liaison with data depositors over the release of sufficient spatial identifier information to allow a meaningful rural/non-rural classification. DEFRA`s new dedicated rural longitudinal survey will in due course also become a key information source.
Objective 2c : Secondary Analyses of the National Longitudinal Studies
It is proposed to provide secondary analyses of 3 of the 4 national birth cohort studies existing longitudinal data to establish a baseline description about social and geographical mobility in and out of rural areas. The studies will seek to answer such questions as: do the life courses of people who remain in particular types of rural area differ from those who move out and from those who move in? What types of local area have the more transient populations and what types of people, in terms of social advantage and deprivation are more likely to be found in, stay in or move into rural areas?
The wealth of geographical information contained in the national cohort studies has been under-exploited. The ONS Longitudinal Study of England and Wales, which tracks 1% of the population since the 1971 census has already been used for a number of projects relating social and geographical mobility, but links to the 2001 census (expected in 2004) and the new rural/urban definition will add significantly to our knowledge of life histories/life chances in different type of rural area. Assuming sampling matters are favourable, we propose to examine the survey data in small town, urban/rural fringe, metropolitan rural and `deep` rural environments.
Objective 2d : Sources and Analyses for Research on Health Inequalities and Outcomes in Rural Areas
The Centre provides the opportunity, for the first time, we believe, to bring together a multidisciplinary team with expertise in the different issues that impact upon a community¡¦s well-being and productivity. From this flows the opportunity to develop an innovative research programme to address inequalities between rural and urban environments and within the rural environment. Initially a scoping study will be conducted to identify all relevant literature and datasets and then to examine their feasibility for providing information on health and health care availability and access at a rural level (the definition of ¡¥rural¡¦ to be established on the basis of the new definition). This will form the material for the paper for the rural health seminar.
The research team will then model and analyse the data to address the questions: ¡¥is there a measurable rural/urban difference in health¡¦, ¡¥how is health limited with respect to rural residence, in both the short and longer term, and in residents at different ages in their lifespan¡¦ and what are the potential links between rural health and work/productivity? Use will be made of results from the national cohort studies but the study will enable us to identify the major evidence gaps at different levels of analysis and the effort/cost required to establish new data. We will consider alternative or proxy indicators and recommendations for consideration for collection of other primary data.
Objective 2e Rural Transport and Settlement Topography
In 2001, Gray produced a report for the Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) arguing that ¡¥rural areas¡¦ encompassed widely different geographic conditions with heterogeneity of transport ¡¥problems¡¦. In highlighting rural heterogeneity, rejecting a simple urban/rural distinction, and attempting to provide some complexity to the debate, a transport typology was developed, incorporating eight rural ¡¥types¡¦ ranging from ¡¥metropolitan peri-urban¡¦ to ¡¥isolated periphery¡¦. Area types were classified - and key transport problems identified - using a number of factors including car ownership levels, population dispersal, availability of public transport and reliance on the car.
CfIT and other bodies, including the Countryside Agency concluded that the typology provided a potentially useful framework for conceptualising rural areas and the likely transport solutions suitable to each area. Nevertheless, it was noted that more work was required to refine the typology, in particular to include a component relation to the socio-economic make up of an area.
The research contributed by the proposed Centre would carry forward the initial work of CfIT. Specifically the desk based work would involve refining the typology. Specifically to suggest ways to:
„h improve the original CfIT typology, including the development of a socio-economic component.
„h take account of emerging issues such as the impact of road user charging on rural roads and communities.
„h produce a set of optimum transport solutions for different rural types.
„h examine ways in which typologies can be used in practice to improve the formulation of transport policy, and the delivery of transport provision, in the UK.
A related focus of activity to be undertaken by David Gray will be to recruit European partners with the aim of bidding for EU funding to develop a European rural transport typology and to explore the potential for more detailed approaches at the regional level.
Objective 3 : Dissemination
It is proposed that the research Centre will establish `two-way` communications/networks: it will exchange views and information with the DEFRA Rural Affairs Forum, Rural Academics, English Market Towns Advisory Forum and Market Towns Learning Network and the ESRC Rural Economy and Land Use Programme and it will establish its own channels of communication for disseminating the results of its work.
Channels of dissemination will include the following:
„h the research development seminars to be held in the first six months of the life of the Centre; working papers for each seminar will be produced and published as a Centre Working Paper series, shortly after seminar conclusions have been incorporated,
„h academic papers will be produced for internationally recognised journals, there are particular links with Local Government Studies managed form INLOGOV
„h members of the consortium will present papers at suitable academic and other conferences on rural issues
„h a Rural Evidence Research Centre website will be supplied with interim results, working papers and will be updated at least bi-monthly. It is assumed this will be hosted on the DEFRA website.
„h it is proposed to hold an international conference on the main themes addressed by the Centre at the end of its second year of operation. Participants will use their existing wide international contacts not only to seek out potential contacts/collaborators on selected research themes but to generate contributions to the Centre Working Paper series. Centre management will seek ways in which to generate external finance for such a conference.
Objective 4 : The `Call Off` Contract
Allowance has been made in the costings for this aspect of the work. SERRL is currently running a second such contract for the Countryside Agency in relation to rural services and other related data/analysis provision. All members of the Centre would be available for `call off` work`. The costing of different `turn-around` times for provision of this service will require discussion.
Case Studies in Investigating Rural Community Capacity Building
The Overall Approach
The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit’s definition of capacity building as taken from their ‘jargon buster’ page of the NRU website is:
“[Community capacity building is] shorthand for a wide range of support, techniques and initiatives which aim build the capacity of individuals or organisations within communities to contribute effectively to regeneration projects”.
The research agenda for the Rural Evidence Centre aims to pursue this aspect of rural community development. However, this partial interpretation lacks two important elements. First it pays no attention to the capacity of institutions to overcome inherent barriers to engagement. This is crucial given the predominance of partnerships and governance arrangements in the rural context (as in the urban). The capacity of individuals and communities has to be measured against the capacity and effectiveness of partnership structures and processes to engage with their communities (see for example Smith and Beazley 2000). Second, the definition gives no indication of an end point. What is capacity being built towards, or is this merely a means in itself? What is needed is a theory or concept or model of sustainable and effective community that enhanced capacity can contribute toward.
Stage one of the capacity building work will be an extensive review of academic literature and government guidance in order to distil out the key elements of the approach and to provide a framework against which case study areas may be compared. The output from this work will be a sustainable rural community theory paper.
A further key aspect of capacity building is the notion of social capital and the importance of social networks in rural areas. Social capital gives individuals access to contacts, resources and influence and research has demonstrated that it can improve health and reduce crime and the fear of crime. Social capital can provide the foundation for capacity building. This dimension will need to be explored.
The rural dimension of capacity building will need to be explored. The research will look at the nature, process and impact of community involvement in rural areas. It will examine the rural influences on involvement, the impact of the voluntary and community infrastructure and the importance of building up key skills to promote effective community engagement. The research will need to identify and assess community strengths in rural areas as well as identifying the barriers that rural communities face.
Measuring capacity building is not an easy process. There are problems of identifying cause and effect. Moreover, it is a long-term process and the results of capacity building initiatives and activities often take time to bear fruit. Stage two of the approach is case study based.
It is our intension to establish case studies in a number of rural areas in discussion with the Steering Group. An indicative approach to the development of case studies is given below. It is envisaged that case studies would be County-based and in-depth. The number and distribution of case studies will be a matter of discussion and scoping for the Steering Group.
Local people are the prime beneficiaries of capacity building initiatives, so it is vitally important to involve them as much as possible in any investigation of that process. The intention in this research is therefore to use a qualitative participative/educative approach that involves people in the process and feeds back findings into the system at regular intervals.
Community involvement not only increases the chances of the research being accepted and seen in a positive light by those involved in the process, but also reduces the potential ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ tension that can sometimes emerge. Developing an ongoing relationship between the researchers and those involved in the capacity building initiatives can also improve the quality of information that is generated. The engagement of local people is a capacity building exercise in and of itself.
The process outlined here involves three basic key phases. Phase 1 is an iterative process of data gathering and feedback over years 1 to 3 that gathers relevant data and feeds that back to the community via focus groups and regular community conferences. Phase 2 provides the major thematic review of the various capacity building initiatives/regeneration interventions. Finally, Phase 3 is the final reporting phase that collates the findings from previous years to provide the final overall evaluation.
Phases 1 and 2 aim to contribute towards our understanding and the improvement of the capacity building in operation and to highlight issues regarding, and the likely achievement of, ongoing sustainable regeneration.
Phase 3 is outward looking that will focus more on what has been achieved during the life of the Centre in this area, and importantly, what still needs to be done in terms of empowering local communities and facilitating tangible benefits to the residents within the case study areas and elsewhere. A particular focus here will be the identification of good practice that might inform future, wider regeneration activity.
The Centre will provide the vehicle for dissemination of research findings locally, nationally, and internationally.
A schematic model of participative action/educative research approach that is proposed is given in Figure 1. below.
Figure 1. Schematic Model of Participative Action/Educative Research Approach
The advantage of this approach is that it enables those people engaged in the process to share and exchange experience about the programme, but also facilitates the ability of the research programme to adapt and respond to the issues being identified en route to the final assessment.
Use will be made of quantitative data that emerges from other elements of the evidence base as well as any audit material that exists as a result of Local Strategic Partnership activity fro example. If no quantitative data exists, it may be necessary to survey community and voluntary sector activity as part of a baseline measure of community capacity.
Key issues to be considered
There are a number of key issues that will inform the research:
the nature of the specific initiatives contained within the case study area and whether of not they are meeting their objectives.
the identification of the beneficiaries of the projects and the extent to which they feel they are benefiting from the intervention/s.
the identification of what might have happened in the absence of capacity building measures.
the nature of rural regeneration and community involvement that enhance sustainability. Here the researchers will be looking for evidence of:
o permanent improvements in local conditions that will survive beyond the life of the programme.
o the creation of mechanisms that ensure ongoing community activity.
o the development of self supporting projects.
o the effectiveness of partnerships that give the local community a real voice.
o Lessons that are emerging from the study of capacity building in the urban context.
The research proposed here aims to involve as many stakeholders as possible with an interest in the community capacity building in rural areas. This evaluation will establish the stakeholders’ perceptions about community capacity building, their knowledge of various capacity building initiatives and views of the initiatives from those who had experienced it as participants/recipients. As well as assessing experiences and perceptions, the evaluation will also consider implementation issues by examining different aspects of decision-making within the appropriate organisations. Finally, the research will focus on the prevailing contextual factors to establish whether the mechanisms for community capacity building are appropriate to the environment.
The specific methodology will incorporate a variety of data gathering techniques:
(i) Documentary analysis
We will collect and examine material relevant to capacity building and its development in rural areas. These may include:
general material on capacity building and its evaluation.
background papers to Vital Villages/Market Towns Initiative/LSPs etc.
papers and minutes from meetings relating to:
o Parish Councils
o Area Forums
o Voluntary Service Councils
o Regeneration Case Workers
o Special interest Groups
o Neighbourhood Action Plans
o Training and small grants initiatives
(ii) Semi-structured stakeholder interviews
A series of semi-structured interviews would be undertaken with stakeholders including members from each tier of local government, partnership board members, representatives from umbrella agencies for voluntary sector, community sector, business sector etc.
(iii) Focus Group Discussions
This will involve a series of regular focus group discussions with key stakeholder groups These focus groups would occur throughout the life of the programme and the issues emerging from them would from an issues paper that would feed into the annual Community Conference discussed below.
(iv) Annual ‘Community Conference’
This would be held each year for Years 2 and 3 of the evaluation period. These conferences will provide an opportunity for the researchers to present some of the findings emerging from the document analysis, the interviews and the focus groups sessions to the wider community for feedback and response.
(v) Participant Observation
To be decided after scoping, but a number of key partnerships/organisation would be observed through attendance at meeting in order to make an assessment of decision making processes
(vi) Quantitative survey of community and voluntary sector activity
In some local authority areas, much work has been undertaken to audit voluntary and community sector activity. Findings from these types of surveys could form part of the feedback into the community conference cycle as well as the major thematic review of capacity building initiatives that will be published at the end of years two and three. This will be an opportunity to revisit such a ‘baseline’ in order to identify progress that has been made toward capacity building objectives.
(vii) identification and dissemination of good practice
The research would gather and make available examples of good practice that could inform practice elsewhere. This could lead to the development of a capacity building toolkit that would inform the development of capacity building initiatives in rural areas.
(viii) Monitoring and Tracking
The researchers may produce an annual monitoring exercise in order to track the progress of specific capacity building activities as appropriate:
3. Research Costings
The following estimates are presented as indicative costs per case study on an annual basis
Table 1. Outline Activity/Cost Input Timetable
Activity Year 1
Days Year 3
Review of literature/model development/theory paper-year 1- 30=30
Scoping research/negotiating case studies-year 1- 10=10
Steering Group meetings-year 1-5= 5
year 2/3- 5 5= 10
year 2/3- 5 5= 10
‘Community Conference’ Feedback-year2/3=2 2-total= 4
year 2/3- 5 5= 10
year 1/2/3- 5 5 5= 15
Attending Meetings-year 1/2/3
5 5 5= 15
Thematic Review-year 2/3
10 10= 20
Overall Evaluation Report- year 3
Revisit Baseline - ‘Community Activity Survey’-year 1/3
10 10= 20
Total for each year is year 1= 65 year 2=37 year 3=52
The National Cohort Studies - Potential for Rural Analysis
The Centre houses 3 of the 4 national birth cohort studies, and also has expertise on the content and analyses of the ONS Longitudinal Study. It is proposed to provide secondary analyses of existing longitudinal data to establish a baseline description about social and geographical mobility in and out of rural areas. Do the life courses of people who remain in particular types of rural area differ from those who move out and from those who move in? What types of local area have the more transient populations and what types of people, in terms of social advantage and deprivation are more likely to be found in, stay in or move into rural areas? This sort of information is crucial to understanding the demographics of rural areas (Objective 1c) and also to the design of any Longitudinal Data Collection (Objective 2c).
The 1958 and 1970 cohorts are national, unclustered sweeps following around 12,000 individuals each at intervals. The most recent data was collected in 2000 and the next round of data collection is in 2004. For recent sweeps the postcode or electoral ward is known, and we have already assigned an indicator of rural residence back to age 16 in both surveys. About 12% were then ‘rural dwellers’. Since the dataset in rich in other indicators of educational and labour market achievement, at social capital and social exclusion it is possible to compare those living/ staying in rural environments with the progress through life of their contemporaries elsewhere. The Millennium Cohort offer a differently structured dataset, so far as on one sweep of 18,500 families with a 9-month-old child, clustered in 398 electoral wards across the UK, within (is DEFRA only concerned with ENGLAND?) which about 70% of all births in a year were sampled. These families will be followed up wherever they move to, the results of the second sweep becoming available in 2005.
This wealth of geographical information has been under-exploited, partly because it cannot be released for general use outside the Centre for Longitudinal Studies for reasons of the protection of the confidentiality of cohort members. Given researcher time and software at CLS it can be mobilized for the use of this study.
The ONS Longitudinal Study of England and Wales, which tracks 1% of the population since the 1971 census has already been used for a number of projects relating social and geographical mobility, but no-one has yet had the chance to analyse the results of the 2001 census link, expected in 2004, nor necessarily used in a definition of rural area types which will be most appropriate for this project. It is therefore proposed to contribute an analysis of census-based rural residence histories, 1971-2001, which could be expected some time in 2005.
The review of existing sources would highlight what information is missing as well as what information is known. This will enable CLS to play a role in advising DEFRA about the need for new data collection (or augmentation of existing data collection) which may be required.
Mapping Rural Data at Microscales
This stream of work would build on microscale data relating to individual properties, occupancies and land use change events. These include highly detailed representations of settlement composition undertaken as part of the urban and rural definitions project, founded on a grid model of hectare cells, derived from the Postcode Address File (PAF). This representation is not only highly detailed but also strikingly similar to that derived from the finest scale Census information available. Moreover the PAF based model may be augmented by any postcode linked data ranging from house prices, private sector rents or credit referenced data to property-use data inferred computationally from the address itself. Of course, it is desirable to supplement such sources with rich conventional datasets such as the Population Census and the proposed work would include further development of ‘conditional probability mapping’ and analysis integrating PAF and Census.
The purpose of using data at such fine scales is to allow macroscopic analyses, but deploying aggregations of analytic and policy relevance. Entities and locales created out of individual properties and events- such as the population of Forest in Teesdale, the commuting households of the North Pennines or the new household growth of the Fens may be regarded as ‘networks’ in a very general sense. The threads which bind these sets together may be linguistic. Most simply and obviously, locales may be built using settlement names in postal addresses (the approach used to produce a gazetteer of rural settlements for the Housing Corporation). Far more complex networks may however, be built up based for example, on shared occupational identity, assessment of generlized costs of access. It is networks of the last type that are pertinent to the analysis of environmental sustainability.
In accordance with our overall objectives this stream of work would focus on developments of existing work which to enable analysis of variations in the character of rural locales, and underpin examination of dysfunction in rural areas. An important first step in this work would be prioritizing the substantive themes that analytic infrastructure should be developed to serve. Possible development directions which might be explored are set out below.
A first theme for consideration would focus on household movement, the accommodation of growth in numbers of households consequent on falling household size and the resulting patterns of physical development. This would provide the evidence base for an examination of the role of the countryside (or rather of differentiated rural locales) in accommodating new housebuilding and related built development. The analytic approach would expose the significance of widely diffused development and hence form the basis for consideration of the sustainability of such forms and appropriate policy responses. Such analysis would build not only on analysis of housing output at very small area level (using the Land Use Change Statistics) but integrate the analysis of house price using data at the postcode sector level and examination of small area population change based on PAF in conjunction with 2001 Census data.
Secondly, this theme might be further developed by supplementing the analysis of local house price pressures and housing output with examination of changes in the intensity of use of existing property. Such analysis would build on recently developed methods using natural language processing to analyse patterns of property amalgamation and subdivision (Bibby forthcoming). Although analysis to date has involved the examination of all residential property in England, its substantive focus has been on monitoring achievement against the government’s urban intensification agenda. Potentially existing analytic approaches might be further developed to explore the extent to which shifts in intensity of use of property either offset or exacerbate the pressure for new housebuilding in rural areas, and the relationship of any such constraints to physical planning policy.
Thirdly, this theme could be extended yet further by examining the role of registered social landlords in responding to patterns of household change. This would build on highly detailed grid-based analyses of CORE data (collected by RSLs and assembled by the Housing Corporation to integrate the analysis of the registered social landlord sector). Our previous
work has shown how these data may be used to illustrate the contribution of new construction by RSLs to accommodating additional household and to illustrate variation in the social groups benefits from the flow of vacancies arising both from new construction and relets.
Fourthly, and more ambitiously, it would be possible to develop methods and build information to enhance the evidence base by considering far more detailed analysis of economic function and performance building on our previous work exploiting the FAME database (which provides company accounts in a standardized form) together with ‘directory’ style information using sources such as the Business Database (machine-readable Yellow Pages) and analysis of occupier names in PAF itself. This would build on work undertaken on locally significant companies for former TEC areas for what is now the Department of Work and Pensions and also on the computational semantic analysis of PAF undertaken with the support of the RICS Education Trust (Bibby, forthcoming b). Such examination forms a starting point for the analysis of the ‘open-ness of rural locales to external economic influence and would allow the examination of the scale of ‘indigenous’ economic activity.
Fifthly, and more ambitious still, it would be possible to focus on the development of methods to analyses the networks (or ensembles) of households and businesses which the individual configurations might permit. This would allow anlysis of the implied costs of accessing or delivering services. Our previous work on the East Midlands region and its neighbours has paved the way for this sort of examination by using a hectare cell model to explore the implications of alternative patterns of physical development for transport costs and greenhouse gas emissions. It would be possible to extend such analyses so that they were national in scope and to develop them substantively to consider consequences for health care for example.
Time-Scale and Cost
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - London - Birkbeck
Fields of Study