A new identity for the peri-urban
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 15:11 authored by Angela CastlesAngela Castles
The story of agriculture in peri-urban Australia is one of short term intensive farming, regularly relocating in the face of urban demand. Planning solutions implemented by governments to protect productive lands from urban growth have not succeeded, with the result that this area of interface between urban and rural lands has become highly contested and confused. The prevailing view identifies this space as having no firm identity, inevitably transitioning to residential use. This study sought to unpack the peri-urban to establish its identity, using its multiple elements as clues. Investigating contextual forces of population, landscape and food by applying the theoretical lenses of planning, valuation, agriculture and landscape resulted in a conceptualisation of the space as wicked, yet multifunctional and collaborative. Using mixed methods, and recruiting voice as a tool, the study deconstructs the peri-urban landscape, revealing an alternate view of the space which not only captures the contests and wickedness, but potentially finds a new accommodation of them. Pulling the peri-urban apart identified a cacophony of voices, which not only challenges the prevailing view but also reveals that the contestation contributes to a specific peri-urban identity. The research concludes that these spaces are not transitional or temporary, rather their multifunctionality and dynamism give them an identity and integrity in their own right. A critical part of this identity is captured in the idea of a new agrifood market in the space, different in structure from the traditional market, pulling multiple uses and values together. It has an unexpected interface - focused as much on relationships as food production. It is nimble, able to react quickly to consumer demand and its close proximity to urban centres is critical. The ties that bind it are strong, but they are often informal. It is a blue ocean (Kim & Mauborgne, 2006) with significant implications for how we plan, value and manage these messy peri-urban agriscapes.
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