Rural-urban Fringe (RUF)

The rural–urban fringe, also known as the outskirts, rurban, peri-urban or the urban hinterland, can be described as the "landscape interface between town and country" This is found at the edge of a town or city and is where town meets country.
Rural-Urban fringe is an important concept in settlement geography. The rural-urban fringe is the boundary zone outside the urban area proper where rural and urban land uses intermix. It is the area where the city meets the countryside. It is an area of transition from agricultural and other rural land uses to urban use. Located well within the urban sphere of influence, the fringe is characterized by a wide variety of land use including dormitory settlements housing middle-income commuters who work in the central urban area. Over time the characteristics of the fringe change from largely rural to largely urban. Suburbanisation takes place at the municipal boundary of rural-urban fringe.
Increasing demand for land in the rural-urban fringe area because:
  • Land is cheaper – as the accessibility of the rural–urban fringe is lower than that of the inner city areas and most of the people have to travel to the inner city for work, fewer people are willing to live in the RUF. Thus the land prices are lower.
  • There is less traffic congestion and pollution – as the area is a new development in the outskirts, and the population living in the area is lesser than the inner city, the traffic congestion and pollution levels are lesser.
  • There is easier access and a better road infrastructure – as it is a newer development with a lot of space available.
  • There is a more pleasant environment with more open space – the amount of open space decreases with time as the extent of development increases, and so does the friendly environment.
Beneficial development in the rural-urban fringe area:
The rural-urban fringe is characterized by a mixture of land uses, most of which require large areas of land.
  • Housing developments as urban sprawl continue
  • Science and business parks
  • Hypermarkets and superstores
  • Retail parks and out of town shopping centers
  • Office developments
  • Hotels and conference centers
  • Airport expansion
Problems caused by developing the rural-urban fringe:
  • Large areas of the countryside may be lost
  • Buildings may be out of character with existing rural buildings. Thus the loss of aesthetic sense
  • Villages may become suburbanized
  • Traffic is likely to increase (both cars and lorries)
  • There may be an increase in pollution (noise and air)

Uses of Rural urban Fringe and its Impacts


Positive Aspects

Negative Aspects


Many well-managed farms and small holdings

Farms often suffer litter, trespass, and vandalism; some land is derelict in the hope of planning permission


Some well-cited, carefully landscaped developments such as business and science parks

Some developments, such as out of town shopping areas cause heavy traffic flow and pollution. Unregulated businesses such as scrap metal and caravan storage. Airport expansion

Urban Services

Some areas such as reservoirs or cemeteries, may be attractive.

Mineral workings, sewage works, landfill sites, etc. can be unattractive and polluting


New cycle ways and footpaths can improve access to countryside

Motorways destroy countryside and promote new development, particularly near junctions.

Recreation and sport

Country parks, sports fields and golf courses can lead to conservation.

Some activities such as stock car racing and scrambling to erode ecosystems and create localized litter and pollution

Landscape and nature conservation

Many SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and AONB (Areas of Natural Beauty)

Much degraded land, Eg. land ruined by fly-tipping; many SSSIs under threat



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