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Rural Syntax

Part 1 Dissertation 2001
Terri-Louise Donegan
University of Dundee Dundee UK

This dissertation describes an approach to the creation of a rural syntax that will facilitate community integration in the planning and design of emerging developments as a consequence of suburbanisation. The author, having been born into the rural village of Crumlin has witnessed its suburbanised expansion from a close-knit settlement with a population just exceeding 1500 to its present size approaching 5000. Now described as a small town, Crumlin, which is adjacent to the International Airport in Northern Ireland has been chosen to provide anecdotal evidence about community perception and involvement in the suburbanisation process.

The case study attempts to elicit differences and similarities between established residents and newcomers as a basis for the rural syntax paradigm. The term syntax, borrowed from Hillier (1984), is used to structure the author's belief that similarities will emerge from a consensus of suburbanised village studies of the type herein, whereas the differences are hypothesised as being geographical in context and are derived from specific local community surveys.

This research, limited by resources and time, has produced anecdotal evidence to reassure the author that her inaugural thoughts on the integration of community perception and the philosophy of space syntax has sufficient merit to point towards a potential rural syntax. Such a product could only emerge from a sizeable research project undertaken to answer many of the questions exposed in the concluding phase of this dissertation.

Terri-Louise Donegan

This dissertation uniquely addresses an insidious aspect of 20th and 21st century rural communities, that of the measure of change from traditional village to suburban town.
Terri-Louise saw her home village in N Ireland, undergo a threefold expansion in her lifetime. This major shift entailing quantity at the cost of social quality acted as the catalyst of enquiry. Terri-Louise sought to analyse, enumerate and understand this change in a socially relevant manner.

The essence of change involves people and this study is based on the reverse responses of people within an affected community, a community where established residents and newcomers have differences. The vehicle of understanding such change involved a social survey and the creation of a rural syntax. Both having been thoroughly executed and postulated create evidence that the development of rural communities can and must be managed for change within a proactive and informed environment.

This excellent piece of work has indeed added to our knowledge and understanding of certain of the pressures being exerted on rural communities.

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