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English Market Towns Being ‘Gentrified’

English market towns are being transformed through a combination of demographic and economic changes that have inexorably changed their character, according to a new study from the University of Leicester.
Researcher Craig Wheway, of the Department of Geography, has been examining the ‘gentrification’ of market towns across England. He will present his findings to the public at the University of Leicester on June 29.

Craig said: “While a small proportion of Brits dream of owning a second property abroad, it appears that market towns in England are becoming increasingly popular".

“As part of my postgraduate research, I have looked at the impact middle class incomers - known as ‘gentrifiers’ - and how market towns have changed into bustling urban centres”.

“People often associate rural market towns as centres of the rural economy, with farms providing local produce and buildings which show off distinctive architecture. The reality is that they increasingly have to adapt to an economy moving away from agriculture which involves the development of new skills”

Market towns are highly attractive settlements to live, particularly amongst the elderly, for whom the proximity of services and quality retail and leisure facilities is a distinct advantage. Amongst the changes that have occurred has been the conversion of traditional pubs to restaurants, serving middle class ‘a la carte’ menus with associated prices. Through his PhD thesis, Craig aims to uncover the extent of middle class gentrification through both questionnaire surveys and interviews.

Craig added: “The research I am undertaking is pertinent on two counts. Firstly, no one has yet linked middle class migration with rapidly rising property prices in market towns. Secondly, the data will reveal the characteristics of market town gentrifiers, what pursuits they enjoy, how they use the countryside and their consumption habits".

“This will enable us to better understand how to provide for increasing expansion of market towns”.

The research will be presented at a Festival of Postgraduate Research at the University on 29 June. The Festival introduces employers and the public to the next generation of innovators and cutting-edge researchers, and gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to explain the real world implications of their research to a wide-ranging audience.

Ather Mirza | alfa
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