Reclaiming the 'Public' Lands: Community Conflict and Rural Gentrification


  • Darren P Smith Loughborough University


The current aspirations of the British coalition government to sell-off publicly-owned land and building assets to facilitate new housing development, raise capital, and engage local communities is an emotive issue. Why 'public' assets are relinquished, and how land and buildings are redeveloped by private sector organisations can stimulate conflicts/resistance within local communities. Using the case study of Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, this paper explores how a local community group opposed the proposed development of a local authority-owned 'car park' on the premise that it was 'out of place' in the rural small town, and more congruous with a large urban setting. As the disposal of public land and buildings is more widely taken-up, it is possible that similar NIMBY protests may become more pronounced and spatially diffused in the UK as the make-up of local places is transformed. Keywords: rural change, rural housing, NIMBY, rural gentrifiers, resistance