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Ryo Iizuka (Teikyo University, Japan)

Toshio Kikuchi (Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan)

Martin Phillips (University of Leicester, UK)

Topic: Change in mobility and impact of rural gentrification in remote commuter villages: The case of the rural area of Leicestershire, England


In recent years, the commutable areas surrounding large cities have expanded according to changes in work and lifestyle as well as the increase in mobility across the Global North, including Europe. Most of the commuters moving into such areas belong to the middle class, and their inflow has caused gentrification. In gentrified villages, conflicts in culture and lifestyle often arise between incomers and native villagers. While such negative impacts are observed, positive impacts are also perceived, such as an influx of new cultures, development of ‘bridging’ atmosphere and beautification of landscape. This paper discusses and explores how the increase in peoples’ mobilities causes rural gentrification and what is the nature of local community changes caused by the progress of rural gentrification by focusing on the conflicts and harmonies between the incomers and native residents of the Leicestershire villages, an area which is becoming known as the remote commuter belt of the London Metropolitan Area. This paper employs a quantitative approach based on an analysis of statistical data, such as the UK Census, to ascertain the process of gentrification in the area. In addition, records of the community council proceedings as well as literature about the area are reviewed. Survey interviews of residents were conducted to qualitatively capture their perceptions of the changes within their communities. In the case of the Leicestershire villages, the concept of traditional rurality struggles with that of new rurality under the progress of gentrification. On the other hand, gentrifiers seem to be attached to their local communities, and they are important actors in the management thereof. As a result, we conclude that the aforementioned coexistence of conflicts and harmonies should be regarded as a phenomenon which indicates that these villages are becoming cosmopolitanised.

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