Land Use Policy 26S (2009) S109–S114
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Land Use Policy
j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w . e l s e v i e r . c o m / l o c a t e / l a n d u s e p o l
Social and economic drivers of land use change in the British space economy
Andy C. Pratt
Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK
a r t i c l e i n f o
a b s t r a c t
This paper considers factors inﬂuencing change that will affect future working patterns and practices,
Received 10 September 2009
leisure time, employment levels and inﬂuential sectors within a 50-year time horizon (2010–2060). The
Accepted 11 September 2009
main section of this paper sketches out the drivers (demographics, technology, industry and employment)
and their implications for the future of work, employment, and leisure, whilst the next section draws
together the implications and underlines the likely impact on land use. Finally, some more radical and
non-normative, non-trend, events are introduced as a test of the robustness of the discussion.
© 2009 Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Future of work
reached its most extreme in the 1970s. A subsequent wave of
industrial and service reorganisation associated with a deepening
This paper begins by reﬂecting upon the dynamic of change in
globalisation process led to the outsourcing of routinised activ-
the recent past, and to what extent past changes set the mould for
ities to the regions, to metropolitan cores outside London, and
future development, and by considering potentially novel dynamic
subsequently to far-ﬂung global locations. Geographers have sum-
elements. It adopts a normative approach informed by social
marised this wider process as the spatial division of labour (Massey,
theorists of post-industrial society who outline the growth of non-
1984; Massey, 2007). This process has important consequences.
manufacturing activities, and the likelihood of a shift of investment
It compounds regional disadvantage through the concentration of
and political resources to education and science. This approach is
low skills and by limiting the basis of local economic activity. On
blended with analyses of the international restructuring of eco-
the other hand it concentrates national, and increasingly inter-
nomic activities associated with globalisation, in particular those of
national, headquarters of leading industries in London, and to a
the spatial division of labour. Additionally, we consider the strate-
signiﬁcant lesser extent, in other metropolitan regions. This pro-
gic importance of the international production chain of goods, and
cess was given a supercharged input with the ‘Big Bang’ of 1987,
the competition for competitive advantage in high value added
which paved the way for London to beneﬁt from a massive growth
goods, and the processes that control their production chain. There
in ﬁnancial services. During the 1990s, London’s massive loss of
is a veritable library of books and papers that discuss the subtleties
its last substantive manufacturing jobs was matched in numerical
of these approaches, and their strengths and weaknesses. However,
terms by ﬁnancial services growth (Gordon et al., 2002). Critically
they are deployed here as a means of generating broad empirical
face-to-face activities continue to be concentrated in London (Amin
parameters of economic change for the future.
and Thrift, 1992). Accordingly, there has been massive demand for
The UK has experienced a long-term shift in its economic base
highly priced urban land, even in a highly wired economy based
from the 1930s onwards, and that accelerated in the 1970s: namely
upon online trading.
a shift away from manufacturing industries, a further decline of
These transformations are signiﬁcant, and contain some impor-
agricultural work, and a rise of service sector activities. Looking at
tant subtleties that give us a clue to future changes. The shift to the
the British space economy, we see that as international competi-
knowledge economy is not simply a substitution of technology for
tion grew in the 20th century, UK manufacturing began a long-term
labour, although this has happened. It is more accurately viewed
decline. This decline was especially marked in the regions and
as a reconﬁguration of the nature of work and production, and
critically involves a restructuring of where added value activities
take place in the production chain. New activities associated with
distribution, logistics, marketing, and design are increasingly the
While the Government Ofﬁce for Science commissioned this review, the views
source of added value, and of competitive edge (see Walker, 1985).
are those of the author(s), are independent of Government, and do not constitute
Whilst manufacturing is not a signiﬁcant part of the UK economy,
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
production in China is part of the UK value chain.
0264-8377/$ – see front matter © 2009 Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
A.C. Pratt / Land Use Policy 26S (2009) S109–S114
It is noteworthy that the current numbers of people at work,
lator’ effect2 (Fielding, 1992). However, London continues to be a
and the proportion of the population that are economically
net beneﬁciary of migration from the regions, and from interna-
active, is the highest ever recorded (27.3 million1). However,
tional migration. The recent rise in migrants from the EU accession
these headlines obscure the fact that this growth comprises a
countries has been eroded both by the recession and by the cyclical
dramatic increase in part-time work, and a decline in males in
nature of this migration. These economic migrants tend to return
employment and a rise in females. These changes are correlated
home within a short period. The ﬁrst destination of migrants has
with the traditional gender division of labour. Men dominate
been overwhelmingly London. Clearly, future international migra-
manufacturing activities, but these have shown signiﬁcant decline.
tion patterns are impossible to predict. However, it does seem as
Moreover, the regions outside the South East have been affected
if the UK will be strategically reliant upon migration, and politi-
by manufacturing decline, but without compensating growth in
cal support is likely to be lent to it. Internal migration may be a
the service sector. In some cases the substantial growth that has
occurred in services has not been sustained, as these activities are
It is likely that these employment patterns will stabilise. Pres-
subject to international competition.
sures to work longer will intensify because of current and future
deﬁcits in the pension system. Likewise, the housing debts incurred
during the 1990s and more recently will remain an issue for house-
Key drivers and trends
hold budgets. It is likely that there will be a repeat of the periodic
crises of negative equity, and that these will periodically stall hous-
In this section I will review the four main drivers of change
ing markets. The adverse ratio of earnings to house prices means
in economic activities: demographic, technology, industrial and
that there will have to be an increase in the provision of social
employment. Our concern is not simply with scale but also with
rented housing if a future workforce is to be housed, especially
the likely character and quality of change. In each case I outline the
those entering the labour market.3 The location and funding of this
key characteristics of the driver and consider a range of likely and
housing will be an issue. Those who are most vulnerable to being
unlikely parameters. Beginning with demographic change makes
squeezed out of urban housing markets are key workers, or low paid
it possible to gain an insight into the demand for jobs and other
public sector workers, without whom cities will cease to function.
activities in the future based upon cohort analysis. The key cohort
Despite the economic cycles, the UK population has become
is the current crop of GCSE students; this group will be retiring at
wealthier at an aggregate level, although the social and spatial dis-
the end of the period under consideration.
tribution of wealth is little changed.4 But although the population
has more disposable income, social mobility has failed to keep pace.
Social and economic divisions, which are sharpest between London
and the regions, are a critical point. Increased income means more
The UK population is slowly growing, but at a declining rate.
leisure spending, and more consumption generally. One particu-
Birth rates hover around replacement rate, so the key factors are
lar aspect of this has been a dramatic rise in the number of cars,
migration and the decline of the death and birth rates (falling 29%
currently in excess of 23 million, creating pressures on transport
and 14% respectively in the last 50 years). Accordingly, a real issue
infrastructure and a massive modal split in favour of the car. The
will be an aging population. Between 1950 and 2000 the number
time is fast approaching when the excess number of cars in rela-
of people over 65 grew by 70%; in 1960 11% of the population were
tion to road space will increase travel times, and the convenience
over 65, and by 2040 current estimates are that 25% of the popula-
of cars will be threatened.
tion will be in this category (Kinsella and He, 2009). Added to this,
Social changes may stimulate different demands for housing.
life expectancy is rising, growing by around 10% in the last 50 years.
The trend has been towards single person ﬂats and smaller house-
Thus we can see that, the recession aside, 2010 is likely to be the
holds, despite a relatively stable population. Forecasts suggest a
high water mark for employees in employment. The increases in
29% rise in households by 2031. The real question concerns the
economic activity rates of the past 50 years (see below) will prob-
location of demand for new homes. The focus on economic growth
ably go into reverse during and after the present recession. This
in the South East has both elevated house prices there, and created
trend will be gradually ampliﬁed by the huge burden that will be
huge pressures on land supply. This may become a limiting factor
imposed upon society by the growing numbers of the aging popu-
for the growth of the South East. In the regions there is considerable
lation. It is likely that considerable numbers of people will become
slack in supply, and over-supply in many places.5 Demand for these
informal careers, although there will also be a huge expansion of
houses will to a great extent depend on the prospects for sustained
demand for health care and residential care.
economic growth in the regions outside the South East.
Migration is the other aspect of demographic change that will
One of the clearly signalled problems concerns loan restric-
become more critical. Changes in migration are the factor at the
tions that may encourage family members to remain in households
margin of demographic change in the UK. If birth rates remain low,
then without migration there may be a shortage of employees,
or at least a tightening of labour markets. The nationally impor-
2 Where people migrate to London temporarily (perhaps for a couple of years) to
tant growth of economic wealth in the London and the South
achieve improvement in experience and responsibility, or simply income, which
East has been sustained by huge migration (internal and exter-
they are able to ‘cash in’ on their subsequent return to the regions or other
nal). As ﬁnancial services jobs were created, and manufacturing
jobs were lost, unemployment was a consequence, often hidden
In 2008 the ratio of ﬁrst time buyer house prices to income in London–the least
affordable region–was 4.8. This is unsustainable if mortgage offers cannot rise much
by aggregate growth. Moreover, the South East has had a mas-
above 3. Source: Nationwide Building Society.
sive distorting effect on national labour markets as it has drawn
4 See the report on social mobility (Cabinet Ofﬁce, 2008, “Getting on,
in UK regional migrants, especially those with higher skills. Some
getting ahead”). Elliott (2007) ‘Inequality at same level as under Thatcher’
of these migrants have returned to the regions as part of the ‘esca-
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/may/18/politics.socialexclusion. A crit-
ical impetus to change in social mobility is widening access to and the quality of
education. Gains in social mobility will be dependent on education investment, and,
as we have noted, access to Southern labour markets.
5 The North East has the slowest predicted rise in households; however, it is
1 Unless otherwise indicated data is sourced from Regional Trends–various dates.
predicted that there will be a 16% growth in the NE over the period 2006–2031.
A.C. Pratt / Land Use Policy 26S (2009) S109–S114
longer, depressing new household formation. A similar process
Pratt, 2006). Moreover, the focus on energy usage and generation
may lock out migrants from the South East, and force youth to
suggests that open rather than compact cities are more efﬁcient for
migrate from the South East. The cost of university education may
energy generation. This points to the self-sustaining, or renewable
also exacerbate this shift in demand from single occupied stock
energy generating, city being more akin to the sprawling land uses
in inner urban areas, with a possible shift towards local univer-
that planning systems have sought to resist.
sity entrance. This would have a massive impact on provincial
One potential change that might re-conﬁgure the relationship
university town housing markets, where much accommodation is
of the South East to the regions is train travel. The current network
currently provided for student rental.
is congested.6 A step change such as new investment in high-speed
Another key demographic characteristic of the next 50 years
links with major cities in the North could have a potential regener-
will be the growth in the proportion of the aged population. The
ating effect, but may take a long time to develop.7 As we know from
pattern of care chosen will determine how this demand is manifest
the New Towns programme, and especially Milton Keynes, there is
in housing terms, but if current trends continue more sheltered
a long initial phase of commuting before people relocate.
accommodation will be required, and services will increasingly
We can expect to see social polarisation exacerbated by access,
have to orientate to the aged. This may mean a reversal of the
or not, to transportation. The increasing disarticulation of home
car-borne living that we are currently experiencing.
and work is generating relative ‘transport poverty’ where some
people are less able to afford to travel to access services or jobs.
The fundamental challenge is one that will be felt by all of society:
namely the increasing disconnects, and potentially increased time
Technological change is mediated by social and institutional
needed to travel, between the activities necessary for daily life. The
processes that may aid or hinder its rate of development, or cru-
degree to which transport poverty, or environmental constraints,
cially modify its eventual form. In this section we cover three
or simply congestion, will precipitate a crisis is an issue that land
categories of technology: Information, Energy and Health.
use planners will be presented with.
There has been much speculation about the impact of technolo-
Finally, we can consider health technologies. These are criti-
gies on work. The simplest model is that of labour substitution;
cal as they are likely to reduce death rates, and lead to people
however, the usual course is the development of new products and
living longer. This will further exacerbate the aging crisis that soci-
new possibilities which were not initially envisaged. The classic
ety already has to look forward to. This may impact on land use
case has been the development of the computer: the initial notion
in two main ways. First, there will be increased pressure for resi-
was of an automated calculator, but the industry, and the lifestyle
dential homes, whether new or converted from existing buildings.
it has created, have had a far more pervasive impact. In recent years
Second, there will be demand for new and existing residential
there has been much commentary about the possibilities of virtu-
properties to be adapted to cope with an increasingly immobile
ality and the reduction of the need to be physically present: this
population. Mobility for the elderly will become a key issue in terms
in turn has led to speculation about urban life and land use, best
of access to local services. All of these changes could be exacer-
exempliﬁed by the notion of the ‘death of distance’ (Cairncross,
bated by the failure of the pensions system to provide support for
1998). A number of research projects have pointed out that such a
these future pensioners (given that they may not have adequate
projection is misplaced (Pratt, 2000).
pensions, and no state pension), compounded by the fact that the
Evidence points to a future of more complex organisational
working population will be smaller in both absolute and relative
modiﬁcations. People will work both remotely and at home. It is
clear that the ‘hot-desking’ worker is one consequence. Research
also indicates the emergence of nomadic workers: workers who
have no base but who work in several locations as needed (Perry
and Brodie, 2005). There is also the case of the home worker, who
The massive decline in the extractive and manufacturing activ-
will commonly be based part of the time away from home at a work
ities and the loss of port activities has been most evident in the
base and part of the time at home. All of these variants do point to
Northern regions and the core cities. The loss of three million
the end of the factory, or ofﬁce, as we know it: a large building
manufacturing jobs has been more than replaced by service sec-
where all workers have a desk, and which they call their place of
tor growth. However, the jobs have not been replaced like for like;
work. We might describe the new built form that may emerge as
a massive restructuring has taken place. Unlike other regions, Lon-
the ‘hot ofﬁce,’ a central node that workers can check in and out
don and the South East have more than compensated for their
of and get the critical ‘face-time’ they need. In addition, a num-
loss of manufacturing by the growth of the service economy, par-
ber of knowledge-intensive tasks will always rely upon repeated
ticularly in ﬁnancial and business services. From the early 1970s
face-to-face communication. Such activities will generate a need
to the 1990s, London lost most of its manufacturing jobs, but
for clusters of workspaces, that critically may be as much about
over the next decade this loss was replaced by the same num-
socialising as working. It is likely that these clusters will require
ber of gross jobs in other industries, leading to little net change.
prime inner city sites. In parallel we would expect a similar worker
The industries that gained were those that were more produc-
support and socialising structure to emerge around the places of
tive, and which would continue to grow in later years. However,
residence of ‘home workers’ to provide their social milieu (Pratt,
there was considerable displacement of workers and land use:
2008). The positive element might be that some home working
the new jobs were not taken by the old workers, or in the same
may reduce demand for transport systems.
Other authors have explored the impact of the energy crisis on
The headline shift from manufacturing to services in the UK
cities. The biggest debate is about compact cities–the notion that a
regional economy has two dimensions: the relocation of produc-
concentration of land uses will bring about a decreased demand for
tion to the cheapest sites in global and national peripheries, and
travel and energy use (Breheny, 1992). This notion assumes simple
radial commuting patterns and the possibility of controlling land
uses for living and working across several labour market segments,
6 Estimates point to the current rail network reaching full capacity in 2040. See
neither of which seem consistent with the likely outcomes. The
outcome is just as likely to be more commuting (see Jarvis and
7 New high speed rail plan. See Adkins (2009).
A.C. Pratt / Land Use Policy 26S (2009) S109–S114
at the same time, the consolidation of control, research and devel-
opment, into a few key sites in the core regions. This spatiality is
expressed at an international scale (the outsourcing of production
The structural shift in employment has led to massive changes
activities to China, or of routinised customer services to India), as
in labour markets. The most notable is the increase in participation
well as the regional scale, where the Northern regions have been
rate9; however, looked at more closely this is mainly accounted
the recipients, and subsequently losers to international competi-
for by the entry of more women into the labour market, to a
tors, of the back ofﬁce activities of London and the South East.
point where there is now something close to gender equality in
London and the South East have consistently had the smallest
gross employment. But the types of jobs that women are doing are
proportion of manufacturing jobs throughout the past 50 years,
more likely to be less than full time, lower paid, and impermanent.
currently 5% and 9% respectively. The highest concentration of
Women are over represented in the new manufacturing and service
manufacturing jobs is in the East Midlands (15%), closely followed
sector growth, especially in retailing. At the same time, men who
by the West Midlands and the Northern regions.8 It is likely that
lost jobs have not had such success in re-entering the labour mar-
these ﬁgures will continue to fall as the economy continues to be
ket (Young, 2002). Of course, these patterns are further ampliﬁed
dominated by service activity. Parts at least of the service sector are
in both a metropolitan and a north–south split.
the fastest growing, and have the greatest value added. In recent
The pattern of employment inevitably echoes industrial change.
years the creative industries have been a surprise area of growth in
However, the shift in employment patterns highlights a shift in the
all regions, but in particular in London and the South East, and have
nature of work, and who does it. The industrial restructuring noted
joined ﬁnancial services, health and education as leading areas of
above has been masked to an extent by these shifting patterns,
expansion. Financial services and the creative industries are partic-
especially the growth in female workers and of part-time work,
ularly dominated by the command and control, and research and
and the loss of male full time work. Thus, unemployment in these
development, located in the South East, making development in the
regions in characterised by older male workers who are unlikely to
regions dependent on decisions taken there. These regions did not
ever work again, whilst employment is characterised by many new,
fare so well as the South East. Their manufacturing decline was par-
female entrants to the labour market, who are working less than
tially replaced by back ofﬁce activities, which themselves remained
full time. The growth industries have been the back ofﬁce activities
vulnerable to further relocation. This has led to the regions having a
and retailing and manufacturing to a far lesser extent. Thus the
relatively weaker competitive position. Overall, this shift has hard-
character of employment and unemployment is shifting. Economic
ened the ‘North–South’ economic divide that ﬁrst characterised
activity rates have grown by 7% in the past 50 years and have grown
economic decline in the 20th century and has continued to charac-
especially rapidly for women and in the South. The other regions
terise the growth of the 21st century. For example, many of the
will thus be more sensitive to recession. Average hours worked
newer jobs were created on outer-urban industrial estates and
have fallen slowly, by 3% on average (Young, 2002).
science parks at motorway interchanges. The key growth of high
Another aspect of structural change in work has been the growth
technology jobs was concentrated along the M4 and M11 corridors.
of more ﬂexible working. This should be differentiated from part-
This spatial pattern seems to be entrenched. It is one that can
time working and may involve sequential employment. However,
only be exacerbated by the economic restructuring outlined above,
it is characterised by a less stable employment pattern. This change
and that characterises the industries that will deliver growth and
has impacted most on high-level professions in the more innova-
income in the 21st century. The gross value added per head in Lon-
tive and growing areas of the economy and has a disproportionate
don and the South East stands at 166, and 106 respectively (if the UK
impact on London and the South. It has been argued that such work
is 100): the North East, North West, and Yorkshire and Humberside
patterns require workers to be present in particular locations, per-
languish at 79, 87, and 85 respectively. Accordingly, the vast tracts
haps hot desks and work clusters that need to be in the South East.
of industrial zoned land in the Northern regions will progressively
This has led to the emergence of new clusters of economic activity,
be transferred to other uses, such as retail and housing.
something that governments have been keen to promote (see DTI,
Interwoven in this process has been the reorganisation of
retailing and distribution. The ﬁrst supermarkets emerged in the
It is clear from the previous section that changes in the organ-
UK in the 1960s, and by the 1980s the out-of-town superstore.
isation of work in order to be more competitive and to provide
Big-box retailers have been facilitated by changes in logistics
market leading products, have been signiﬁcant. This is a trend that
(McKinnon, 1989) like those that have affected manufacturing,
will continue. If we examine some of the leading edges of eco-
including the adoption of just-in time systems and regional and
nomic change, for example the knowledge economy, in particular
national warehouse hubs (Lowe and Wrigley, 1999; Wrigley and
the creative industries, we can perhaps get some idea of the char-
Currah, 2006). In spatial terms this has led to the progressive
acter of changes that will be found more widely in the economy
abandonment of city centre locations ﬁrst for ‘big-box’ goods, and
(see Jarvis and Pratt, 2006, on extensiﬁcation: the temporal and
then for all retail. This has led to a further ‘hollowing out’ of city
material ‘spill-over’ of work into the home).
centres, and pressure on motorway intersections to take on the
The main aim of companies is to reduce the risk of market ﬂuctu-
role of new employment hubs.
ation and of being left with greater overheads (of goods in storage,
A likely trend will be the consolidation of services at single
or people) that are not productive (Reich, 2000). The notion of
nodes. All of this raises the prospect of what North American
‘just in time production’ is a manifestation of this. What can be
authors have referred to as ‘edge cities’ (Garreau, 1991), cities that
noted from many cultural businesses is that larger companies are
are polycentric or rather are all edge and no centre. This may hap-
seeking to outsource almost everything, the extreme case being
pen in the Manchester-Leeds conurbation and London. It is likely
where resources are pulled together for a single project (Pratt
that a version of ‘smart growth’–a privately managed urbanism that
and Jeffcutt, 2009). Elsewhere, there has been much discussion of
aspires to ‘non-sprawl’–may take off in such locales (Beauregard,
the development of project based companies where unique tal-
ent is assembled for a particular task, and disbanded directly the
8 The UK average for manufacturing jobs is 11%, compared to 17% in 1991.
9 Currently 7% overall: 79% for men, and 70% for women.
A.C. Pratt / Land Use Policy 26S (2009) S109–S114
project is completed, after a few days or months (Grabher, 2002). An
the energy infrastructure. Planning and land use control are likely
important consequence is for workers who are denied continuity
to take on a strategic role in the management of this change.
of employment and other beneﬁts. Many authors have dis-
Finally, a more overt political shift may change the balance of
cussed how such conditions lead to the development of ‘portfolio
economic power and the ﬂow of migration. There are been ongo-
careers’ where workers are basically self-employed or freelancers
ing discussions regarding place-based, or local, taxation. A local
(Leadbeater and Oakley, 1999; Pratt et al., 2007). Such uncertainty
or regional income tax might potentially reconﬁgure business and
has signiﬁcant implications for social welfare systems and the
household costs. An immediate impact would be that London and
ability to take out loans, people working in this way need to be
the South East would become disproportionately expensive to live
in, as the cost of public services and infrastructure was more effec-
tively signalled by a tax charge. Likewise the regions would become
more competitive in terms of business costs and residential costs.
This might have an impact on rebalancing the regional pattern of
Cutting across the normative trends mentioned above are a
development. Current discussions have viewed local income tax as
number of non-trend events that we might consider as signiﬁcant
a small component alongside council tax; the full impact would
threats that should temper our discussion.
only be felt if local income tax were dominant.13
The ﬁrst of these is a consequence of the global warming
scenario that has already entered the land use system through
Conclusion: implications for land use
transport and urban design. The question of sea-level rise and ﬂood-
ing could have major implications.10 Even modest increases in sea
In this paper we have outlined the major drivers of future land
level rise and river ﬂooding would imperil much housing land, as
use produced by changes in employment and industry in the UK.
well as industrial and business services property. This would cause
The paper has highlighted four areas of change from which signif-
a land shortage as well as generating civil emergencies and costs. It
icant pressure on land use might emanate. Our approach has been
might be that a strategic move to the hinterlands and regions could
for the most part a normative one, bearing in mind that infras-
force a reconsideration of the relationship of London and the South
tructure sunk investment is very long term, and cannot easily be
East to the Midlands and the North.
reversed. Moreover, the UK’s core population dynamics seem to be
The second issue concerns strategy regarding the availability
stable although the aging population is likely to be an increasingly
of land suitable for residential development. Even if substantial
important factor driving land use demands.
amounts of brownﬁeld industrial land are recycled as residential
We raise a number of issues concerning international and inter-
sites the more extensive land use demands of the future, especially
regional migration to London and the South East, which will present
those caused by the multiplication of households, could foreseeably
continual pressure on land use there. We forecast a number of prob-
present problems in particular locations where demand peaks.11
lems associated with the exacerbation of housing and housing land
This could put pressure on the conversion of land away from
shortage in London and the South East (and the surplus elsewhere),
agriculture.12 On one hand, increased productivity in farming has
which runs counter to migration pressures. In the South East and
led to more productive use of land; on the other hand, there are
London these pressures are likely to become critical as congestion
countervailing threats that could increase demand for agricultural
or energy costs make movement by car inefﬁcient. Potentially this
land. Foremost amongst these might be a signiﬁcant shift in the
could threaten growth in the South East, and by extension, the
balance away from an increasing reliance on food imports towards
growth of the UK economy, and is a serious threat.
self-sufﬁciency. Such a shift could occur in response to national
We found that technology applied to the future of work might
security concerns prompted by conﬂict that disrupted production
generate a dual shift towards, on one hand, home working (where
from import nations, as a result of disruptions to international
there would be pressure on local planning rules) and, on the other
transport due to energy costs, or as a result of social and polit-
hand, towards new multi-functional ‘hot ofﬁces’ in city centres.
ical concerns about environmental impacts of international food
These buildings, or city quarters, would offer ﬂexible space, rented
sourcing. A policy of national self-sufﬁciency would place huge
by the hour to a variety of companies, their contactors, or simply
pressures on the land use system not only in terms of food pro-
to the growing body of freelance workers. Whilst the ubiquity of
duction but also in relation to leisure and recreation: a purpose for
computing and communications technologies will tend to loosen
which the countryside is being increasingly used. Whilst social and
spatial ties, a simultaneous countervailing trend will strengthen
environmental concerns would militate against the loss of ‘trophy’
locational ties; albeit in a different manner. Permanent proximity
countryside (national parks, green belts, AONB, etc.) this would cre-
to co-workers is likely to be replaced, for many, by the need to
ate signiﬁcant competition for land use elsewhere, notably close to
network with workers who need periodic brieﬁng, meetings and
Energy security and energy costs are also signiﬁcant. Govern-
In terms of the regional distribution of industry, we felt that
ment strategies point towards a substantial nuclear component to
the evidence pointed to a continuation, or even a hardening, of the
future base load electricity provision. However, renewables will
North–South divide into economic activity and economic opportu-
play a signiﬁcant role. The pressure on land for wind power will
nity. Indeed, London and the South East seemed destined to play an
intensify, and the same pressure will affect the use of inshore
even stronger role in terms of the balance of growth, having most of
waters. There will be wholesale refurbishment and rebuilding of
the higher gross value-added sectors. Industries likely to be leading
10 Current estimates indicate a sea level rise of 0.6m by 2100. See Nicholls et al.
13 The idea has been implemented in Sweden (see Loughlin and Martin, 2004), and
11 Whilst there could be sufﬁcient aggregate supply, there is the potential for local
has been variously considered by both the Liberal Democrats in England and the
Scottish National Party (as a replacement to the property-based Council tax). The
12 A trend that has been small in absolute terms (2% loss in the last 20 years).
current Labour administration has discussed the idea as a supplement to Council
Agriculture still accounts for 76% of UK land use. However, future pressures will
Tax, see Waugh (2004).
be experienced most acutely, on the edges of urbanised areas, especially around
14 See, for example, evidence from research on the emergent new media spaces
London in the South East and the East of England.
A.C. Pratt / Land Use Policy 26S (2009) S109–S114
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- Social and economic drivers of land use change in the British space economy
- Key drivers and trends
- Demographic change
- Non-trend events
- Conclusion: implications for land use