Scott, A.J., Shorten, J., Owen, R. & Owen, I. (2011). What kind of countryside do the public want: community visions from Wales UK? Geojournal, 76(4), 417-436.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5657
This paper assesses how far community led rural visions accord with the current thrust of rural planning policy delivery in the UK. Adapting conventional visioning methods, qualitative techniques were used on eight different communities across urban, exurban and rural Wales to elicit views relating to the kind of local countryside(s) that were desired. The results show that the communities’ visions reflect an emerging consensus around local countryside priorities: multifunctionality, integration, wider countryside protection, development based on need, and local distinctiveness according with the thrust of current planning policy at national and local levels. However, there is a clear dichotomy between this and the reality of what communities actually experienced in developments affecting their countryside. Here, universal criticism was encountered over the type, pace and scale of development, the lack of rural specificity and the failure to take account of local community needs and priorities. It is hypothesized that tensions between national and local politics and stakeholder power relations are playing a crucial role in distorting the delivery of town and country planning. It is recommended that rural policy delivery must become more ‘‘joined up’’ and rural proofed at national and local levels concomitant with a change in the operational culture of agencies at the forefront of rural delivery. Essentially, effective engagement of top down approaches synergising with bottom up community led ideas is long overdue.