EU project ROBUST kicks off in the Netherlands

Rural land designated for housing in Gloucestershire
Rural land designated for housing in Gloucestershire

The CCRI was part of a successful bid for a new Horizon EU 2020 4-year project called ROBUST (Rural-Urban Outlooks: Unlocking Synergies).

The CCRI research team, Damian MayeDan KeechMatt Reed and James Kirwan, recently attended the kick-off meeting in Ede in the Netherlands, where over 60 partners met to initiate this project, which is looking at urban-rural functional relationships in five themes – (i) new business and labour markets, (ii) public infrastructure and social services, (iii) sustainable food, (iv) culture and (v) ecosystems services.

The CCRI is working with 23 partner organisations across Europe, including Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), and in particular will be looking at Gloucestershire as a case study.

Gloucestershire is expected to experience dynamic economic and social developments over the next 15-20 years including significant growth in the number of residents over 65, expansion of investment in hi-tech industries and demand for rural housing. Not all of the county’s predicted economic growth can be accommodated within the existing urban areas and rural and semi-rural land will need to be considered for future employment and housing development. At the same time, decision-makers aim to protect the County’s unique natural environment (including extensive AONB designations) and historic town centres.

These dynamics all indicate a complex mix of both distant and local urban-rural relations in the future. How these can be positively managed is the subject of ROBUST. The project is distinguished by an approach which brings researchers and councils together to investigate questions such as: to what extent can Gloucestershire offer waste, air pollution and flood management services within the wider region? How can rural-urban functions (e.g. tourism, commuting, health care) be managed and integrated across different local authority levels? How can the county’s local food system become more sustainable and successful, given the political changes ahead?

Read more about ROBUST.