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Britain: Runcorn A Tale of Two Centres

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The experience of Runcorn emphasizes the importance of flexibility in planning and design. Shopping City, built around 1970 as the centre for the new town of Runcorn, was facing problems by the 1980s. Rents were high resulting in a narrow range of shops, most of which were leased and managed by national or international chains with little connection with, or concern for, Runcorn as a specific community. It is argued that centres that have grown organically (such as Runcorn Old Town) are able to support a much wider range of uses and functions. In addition to making organic centres more interesting places to visit, these characteristics make them better able to adapt to changing economic or social circumstances than planned centres. Runcorn demonstrates the failures of the rational comprehensive approach to planning, perhaps indicating that the incremental approach provides the variety of socio-economic and physical circumstances that enables towns and their centres to flourish and develop, while the rational approach provides only sterile environments that discourage and frustrate initiative and change.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-04-01

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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