THE ‘RAPID CHANGE’ CLUSTER
e.g. Salford, Dartford, Slough, Oldbury
Gathered in the ‘halo’ around economic hubs – predominantly London – ‘rapid change’ places are affordable offshoots of big cities. Both international and domestic migrants, including larger numbers of graduates, may be moving to these places, meaning waves of change in terms of population growth, diversification and gentrification.
The ‘rapid change’ category is one of our less vulnerable groupings, with the fear and hope data suggesting lower levels of migration hostility. Many of the towns listed are on a positive economic journey – including the likes of Slough, Gravesend and Salford. However, the arrival of newer waves of migration remains a risk, for places which may have historically been very settled.
The changes afoot may also pose big questions about place identity. With ‘rapid change’ comes the risk that settlements in this cluster will become ‘dormitory towns’ for those with little investment in the place itself – or else will be absorbed by larger cities. Hence, shifts in ‘rapid change’ areas need to be managed carefully, to avoid tensions.
Solutions here rely very much on local leadership, as well as on interventions which foster connections between new and existing communities.