Small towns resisting urban decay through residential attractiveness: Findings from Denmark

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Small towns are often considered as losing out in the current trend towards urban development. However, research from around Europe shows a great diversity of small town development, including successful development trajectories despite geographical disadvantages. Investigations into this are predominately done in the context of economic development and urban systems, but such approaches fail to explain why a number of small towns that are not centrally located near a metropolitan region are not in decay. This paper examines how the restructuring of retail and service sectors, demographic composition, residential migration, social organisation and community engagement form and affect small town (1000–5000 inhabitants) development patterns in Denmark and specific place-based endowments. The study is carried out with mixed methods, comprising a quantitative analysis of development trends, complemented by qualitative case studies in six small towns. Our findings show how favourable development paths are a combination of a positive development in population, provision of daily commodities and attractive housing, and a high number of local voluntary social organisations. Introducing the concept of ‘residential urbanism’, the paper discusses the extent to which a residentially driven urban development can compensate for the generally unfavourable regional development context
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeografisk Tidsskrift/Danish Journal of Geography
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)119-132
Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Research areas

  • Urban planning - city planning, small towns, Demography, aging population, migration, Urban development

ID: 153826229