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Neo-liberalising the countryside of Skåne - the golf course development in Bara

Magisterarbeit 2008 66 Seiten

Geowissenschaften / Geographie - Wirtschaftsgeographie



1 Introduction
1.1 Structure of this magister thesis
1.2 Aim of this thesis
1.3 Delimitations
1.4 Methods and material

2 Background – the village of Bara and the golf course development

3 General theoretical approaches for analysing rurality

4 Theoretical background of this thesis
4.1 Neo-liberalism – introduction and theoretical background
4.2 The concept of sustainability – social and ecological sustainability in rural spaces
4.3 Theoretical approaches on rural planning and traffic planning

5 Analysing the rural development in the village of Bara
5.1 The development in Bara – neo-liberalism in the countryside of Skåne or where is the social sustainability?
5.2 Environmental aspects, the case of traffic and ecological sustainability in the planning of the Bara golf course

6 Conclusions


Appendix 1

Interview guide

Appendix 2

E-mail interview with Gustaf Törnqvist nature protection organisation Skåne 2008-05-29

1 Introduction

The influences of neo-liberalism on city planning and urban development has been widely researched in critical social geography, for example in the work of David Harvey (for example “Spaces of global capitalism: Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development” 2007) and Neil Smith (for example “New Globalism, New Urbanism: Gentrification as Global Urban Strategy” 2002) among others. But surprisingly little, despite similar developments, has been written on countryside development and the neo-liberalisation of rural areas. Although the field of rural geography (see for example the work of Paul Cloke “Writing the rural – five geographies” 1994 or “Handbook of Rural Studies” 2006) is quite big there has neither been done very much research on golf course developments in rural areas nor on neo-liberal influences in rural planning. This is even more obvious when it comes to golf course developments in the Swedish countryside. Recent development in Skåne, especially in connection with golf courses, shows that there are similar cases in rural areas as in urban areas. The golf course development in Skåne has strongly increased in recent years and there are several similar golf course developments as in Bara in the countryside of Skåne. Today there is much research on rural geography and the rural urban bias in general, but not much on planning issues and neo-liberalisation in the countryside through leisure and golf course developments. Aspects of the development of tourism and its impact on the environment and place identity of such large-scale rural development in different areas are not much investigated in geography. This is also connected to aspects of sustainability in rural planning and to how these rural developments affect the sustainability and the countryside. There is a lack of knowledge when it comes to certain aspects of rural development, especially in Sweden and Skåne. It is therefore important to investigate some of these aspects and issues.

Today the largest project in the countryside of Scandinavia is the golf course and leisure development in the village of Bara in Svedala’s municipality in Skåne, near the city of Malmö. At the time the area is mainly used for recreation by the citizens of Malmö and other visitors from Skåne, especially the forest Bokskogen. The development of the area with the golf course, a hotel, holiday homes, a conference centre and more will deeply affect the environment. New roads and the increase of traffic related to the hotel, the golf course and the like in addition to the number of people using the new facilities will affect the local environment. It is important to investigate the consequences of these changes because the new way of using the area will automatically lead to a shift of the people using it. Furthermore this development will have a major impact on the environment and the image/identity of the place Bokskogen and the village of Bara. In this process of change complications and conflicts can be involved. Almost nothing has been written on this kind of rural development in Sweden or in other Scandinavian countries, although there are several similar projects in Skåne today. The existing research on similar developments mainly does focus on the Mediterranean countries, the USA and Australia. There has rarely been done any work on Sweden or the rest of Scandinavia (see Markwick (2000), Briassoulis (2007) or DeChain, D. Robert (2007)). This is why it is important to investigate this kind of rural development. There are many important aspects of rural development and in this thesis I want to touch upon some of the issues.

1.1 Structure of this magister thesis

This magister thesis starts with chapters, which give an introduction to the theme and subject of the thesis and describe the aim of it. The following chapter deals with delimitations. In the next chapter I discuss the methods, which I used to collect the empirical data and the methods, which I used for the analysis of the two themes that are described in chapter 1.1. Furthermore I talk about the empirical material used in this thesis. The introducing part of the magister thesis ends with the description of the structure of the paper. The next part is a short chapter on background facts about the village of Bara and the development of the area, which is of interest for this magister thesis. After that I present the theoretical background and the starting points for the analysis of my empirical material which involves both a more general part of theoretical approaches on rurality and more specific theoretical frameworks for my analysis. In the following parts of the thesis I focus on analysing the literature and the empirical material that I collected for this research. I also introduce the theoretical framework for the analysis of the development in the village of Bara. The final part of this magister thesis is committed to discussions and conclusions based on the analysis and the investigations in the previous chapters.

1.2 Aim of this thesis

The aim of this thesis is to fill the gap of knowledge about environmental impacts of golf course development, especially the impact of new roads and more traffic. Furthermore I want to take a closer look at the change of use of the countryside in Bara and this kind of rural development in Skåne like it is described in the introducing chapter. This is connected to different aspects of sustainability, particularly the environmental and social aspects. I want to find out who now does use the area, Bara, Bokskogen, and who probably will use it when the development is finished. Furthermore I want to investigate the impact on the local environment, especially on the forest. This also involves the change of the landscape. I have two different hypotheses, which I want to test in this work: The development in Bara is highly influenced by neo-liberalism. It lacks both social and ecological sustainability. To test my hypotheses I compare the empirical material which I have collected for this thesis with theories on neo-liberalism, sustainability and planning. In order to do that I will investigate two major themes in close connection to aspects of sustainability and sustainable development:

- 1. Use of place – Who does use the place, the area around Bara, Bokskogen, now and with what purpose? Who will use the place when the development is finished? Who has access to the place now? Will that change with the golf course and leisure development? Who plans the area and for what kind of people and economic purpose? What implication does the development have on various social aspects? (social sustainability/neo-liberalism/planning issues)
- 2. Impacts on the environment/landscape – What impact will the development have on the environment/landscape? What will the traffic situation be like after the development is finished? How are the plans concerned with traffic, traffic safety and pollution? What restrictions/protective plans are there? (ecological sustainability/planning issues)

These two themes are related to each other, but I will analyse them separately in two parts of this work and connect them in my discussions and conclusions in the end of the magister thesis. For a better understanding of my work I will discuss my delimitations in the next chapter. Afterwards, in the chapter methods and material, I will discuss the methods and the empirical and theoretical material which I used for my thesis, to investigate the two themes and to answer the research questions above.

1.3 Delimitations

This thesis is delimited to the local field. I will investigate the golf course and leisure development in the village of Bara located in the southwest of Skåne, Sweden in the municipality of Svedala. I will briefly describe the history of the place, when it is necessary for conclusions and analyses of the current development and situation of the area. The plans for the development of the village Bara are all new and the process has just started. This is also why my research and investigation will focus on the latest development, including a short history of the planning process, which started in the early 21st century. The area around Bara has an old history with an old castle and is characterised by agriculture and foresting, but this is only a concern of my thesis when it comes to the image of the place.

The research in this thesis is local and concerned with today’s development. The aim is not to construct the history of the place, but rather to analyse the current rural development in Skåne and particularly in the village of Bara in order to gain more knowledge about this kind of development projects and add new theoretical knowledge to the field.

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Figure 1: Location of Svedala’s municipality and Bara, source: Department of Social and Economic Geography at Lund university – Map developed in ArcGIS

1.4 Methods and material

In order to fulfil the aims set in chapter 1.1 and to answer the research questions from the same chapter I will use several different methods and materials. The first method for the investigation of rural development in Bara is literature analysis. I analyse scientific articles and books to get an overview and deeper understanding of the existing theories about rural development, tourism and neo-liberal development. This kind of analysis is grounded in critical reading of the texts and interpreting them and also applying them on the case, namely the golf course development in Bara (Aitken 2005: 244-245).

To connect the theories with the development of Bara I will collect different kind of empirical material and make plan analysis of the existing plans of the development in Bara. In order to get the empirical material which I needed, I did interviews, observations and participating observations. The interviews I did are with the chief of the department for social structures Lena Gerdtsson, the city architect Jan Bergfelt and the former head of Svedala municipality’s administration Bengt Eriksson (head until 2006) from Svedala’s municipality, all involved in the planning of Bara, but Lena Gerdtsson entered the project later. The interviews on Mai 14th 2008 and Mai 16th 2008 were in-depth and semi-structured, because I wanted to have an open dialog with the planners. During the interview I got the development plans for the planning process of the golf course in Bara, (Detaljplan för del av Värby 61:1 m fl “PGA Golfbana 2005) for Bara and all important written materials, such as the environmental report, traffic investigations, and explanation text to the plans, which all are parts of my empirical material. To analyse this plan and the written material I do plan analysis, which could be seen as text analysis. Furthermore I did an interview with Magnus Billqvist form Naturskyddsforeningen Skåne (nature protection organisation Skåne) on Mai 16th 2008. The last interview for this thesis was an e-mail interview with Gustaf Törnqvist from the local office in Svedala of Naturskyddsforeningen Skåne on Mai 29th 2008. From the homepage of Svedala’s municipality ( accessed 2008-05-07) I got access to the zoning plan and the written explanation of the zoning plan, which both are concerned with the development of the golf course and leisure facilities in the village of Bara (Fördjupad Översiktsplan för Bara 2005). These are the main plans and written materials I used for the method plan analysis and where much information about the planning process is comes from. From those interviews I gained knowledge about the planning process of the golf course in Bara, got a good background knowledge for my investigation (from the officials from Svedala’s municipality) and also some critical aspects concerning environmental issues in the construction of the golf course (from the nature protection organisation Skåne). This knowledge is the empirical base for my research in this thesis. This kind of qualitative knowledge cannot be calculated with, because there are no numbers to do different statistical calculations. The focus here lies more on the interpretation of the answers I got and on getting a deeper understanding of the complexity and different aspects of a social process called planning and of the development of the golf course in Bara. The social activities and power relations were of certain importance here (Rubin and Rubin 2005:201-203, Gubrium and Holstein 1997: 6-14, Valentine 2005:110-111 Cloke and others 2004: 128, 148-150).

During my work on this thesis I visited the village of Bara, the future location of the golf course and the forest Bokskogen several times to do visual observations. I tried to get a feeling for the rural place and to observe the environment, the people and the ongoing development in the village of Bara and Bokskogen. I observed the landscape and the people in Bara and in Bokskogen, the behaviour of the people and their activities, which means I looked at them and tried to figure out for what purpose they were using the place and what effect the landscape and environment might have on them. It was important for me to really get a feeling for the place in order to get a better understanding of the place and the use of the place. This is also why I went there for recreational purpose, just to know what it feels like to actually use forest and be there (participating observation). To get a better feeling of the development of Bara also when working with the analysis I took many pictures of the landscape and the development there. The knowledge I gained here was the feeling that many different people are using the space for recreational purpose, but there were also tourist visiting the area, which gives more strength to my conclusions about the use of place now and than. Tourists here mean people who can be identified as not local, for example through number plate on the busses and cars they use to come to Bokskogen and the area around Bara (Rose 2002: 137-138, 166-167, 170, Aitken and Crain 2005: 250-255, Kemmis and McTaggart 2000: 567-569).

There are many different critiques directed towards qualitative research, such as that it is not scientific or soft-science. The traditions of positivism are seeing a threat in qualitative research because they are criticising the meaning of truth and also the construction of true knowledge. Those are reasonable critiques. But within an opposite tradition to positivism, namely hermeneutics, it is not truth or true knowledge that the researcher seeks, but an understanding of processes and social relations. The same objects or social phenomena are often studied by qualitative and quantitative researchers and the researcher using either qualitative or quantitative methods are often trying to capture an individual’s point of view in of a social phenomenon. But here the critique towards the quantitative researchers can include that the methods like statistics for example do not allow the researcher the close contact to the actors and also do not really seek for deep understanding of the process and relations. This is what I seek in this thesis and because of that it seems most reasonable to use a qualitative approach for this thesis and not a quantitative one. I am not looking for truth and generalisations, but for a deeper understanding of the processes and relations at work in the development of the golf course in the village of Bara (Denzin and Lincoln 2000: 7-11).

2 Background – the village of Bara and the golf course development

In this chapter I want to give a short background to the history and the recent development of the village Bara in Svedala’s municipality.

There are many golf courses in the region of Skåne (about 75, interview with Magnus Billqvist 2008-05-16). The one planned in the village of Bara is one of the largest with many other facilities such as hotel, holiday homes and a spa centre. In the municipality of Svedala and the neighbouring municipalities there are 12 golf courses today. The golf course in Bara is the latest being planned. The village of Bara has today about 3 297 inhabitants (statistics from 2006-31-12, accessed 2008-05-10) and is located near the forest Bokskogen (see figure 1 and 3).

Bara has an old history that dates back to the times before the middle ages. From the middle ages and onwards the church of Bara was located in the village and the population located their houses near the church. Due to the large enclosure in Skåne in the early 1800s (for Bara in 1818) all the farms were moved out to the fields, the built environment in Bara was reduced and the village was basically shut down. The nearest more important farms were Värby and the estate of Torup with Torup’s castle, which today is still intact and can be visited (Fördjupad Översiktsplan för Bara 2005: 8, Broström, Eliasson and Hillbur 2008: 125).

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Torup’s castle, source: accessed 2008-05-10

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Old farm building, source Fördjupad Översiktsplan för Bara 2005: front page

During the building of the railroad between Malmö and Genarp a station was built near the farm Värby and the station was called Bara. Around this station there was a small but growing built-up area (so called station town – stationssamhälle) and the new town of Bara, after the enclosure, was created. Different economic activities, such as small-scale production and trade and services, were located near the station in the station-town of Bara. All this development was going further and more houses were built and more inhabitants were moving to Bara. From 1952 – 1977 Bara was a municipality of its own, which then was integrated to the municipality of Svedala. Most houses in Bara were built during the 1960s and 1970s and most of the houses are one family houses (Fördjupad Översiktsplan för Bara 2005: 8-10, Broström, Eliasson and Hillbur 2008: 125).

Today the village of Bara is characterised by small-scale rural economy, which means that there are some supermarkets, medical facilities, a library and agriculture, but most of the inhabitants are working in Malmö or Lund, which both are about 20 to 30 minutes away from Bara (and are more or less just living in Bara). Further there are still some agriculture activities in the area around Bara, but that is just a little part of the economic activities in Bara. The surroundings of Bara and the forest are used for recreation by inhabitants of the municipality Svedala, the city of Malmö and other inhabitants of Skåne. The forest Bokskogen and its surroundings is one of Skåne largest recreational areas that also attract tourists outside from Sweden. The development of the golf course is indirectly affecting the forest due the close location to it and the changing of the local landscape of Bara and Bokskogen (Fördjupad Översiktsplan för Bara 2005: 11-12, Broström, Eliasson and Hillbur 2008: 125).

The development of the golf course and other leisure facilities is located south of Bara and occupies about 250 ha land. The process of the golf course development is about 20 years old and now the construction of the golf course is almost finished. The other facilities, the hotel, spa- and conference facilities are planned, but the official planning process is just in the beginning phase and there are further investigations needed (interview with Jan Bergfelt and Bengt Eriksson 2008-05-16). Most of the area is today farmland and used for agriculture. There are, however, also some parts in the area with old working class buildings and a characteristic special hilly landscape, which is hardly protected in the developing plan (detaljplan) of the municipality of Svedala. The owner of the land was the city of Malmö, who sold the land to the developer Professional Golfer Association of Sweden (further referred to as PGA). The developers of the area are PGA for the golf course and Holiday Club for the development of the hotel, the holiday houses and the conference facilities. Holiday Club bought the land from a private person who wanted to develop a windmill park in Bara. The plan is to create a 52-hole golf course and in connection to that a hotel, holiday houses and facilities for conferences and concerts. The golf course can be reached by car on new roads, which are built for the golf course. It is planned that the whole development is finished in 2011 and that international golf tournaments, concerts, conferences and similar events are being held in Bara. In addition to that, PGA plans to move their headquarter to Bara and to the golf course. The old farm house called Spångholmens gård will be restructured to fit the purpose of PGA to locate their headquarter there. Furthermore it is planed that about 2000 people staying for holiday in the hotel and holiday houses. The whole development will, when it is finished, mainly attract people from Sweden, Denmark and northern Germany. The costs for the development in Bara are calculated for everything at about 2980 million Swedish Kronor (Fördjupad Översiktsplan för Bara 2005: 70, Detaljplan för del av Värby 61:1 m fl “PGA Golfbana” 2005: 2, 6 and 12-13, Sydsvenska Dagbladet’s homepage accessed 2008-06-04, PGA homepage accessed 2008-05-14). For a better picture and understanding of the plan and the development of the village of Bara see Figure 2 below, which shows the development plan of the village of Bara from 2005.

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Figure 2: Development plan for the village of Bara 2005, source: Fördjupad Översiktsplan för Bara 2005

It could also be interesting to look at the plans for the development of the holiday houses and the hotel, which are not planned and authorised by Svedala’s municipality, but are under investigations. There are also plans for high houses in the centre of Bara with a view over the forest Bokskogen, which could be characterised as forest front development (see Figure 3 below). This development would not have been possible if not the golf course would be built in Bara. It is additional development in a small village like Bara, but this thesis will not explicitly deal with this development (interview with Jan Bergfelt and Bengt Eriksson 2008-05-16).

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Figure 3: Plan of for location of the hotel and the holiday homes, but also the development in the centre of Bara, source: Sydsvenska Dagbladets homepage accessed 2008-06-04, modified 2008-06-15

Furthermore during the last view weeks the länstyrelsen in Skåne tries to make the forest Bokskogen to a naturreservart, which means that the nature in this area will be much more protected than it is now, protect the biodiversity and at the same time make sure that the area still can be for recreational purpose. This could be connected to the construction of the golf course and the intervention in the environment in the area, especially the forest Bokskogen ( accessed 2008-06-04).

3 General theoretical approaches for analysing rurality

In this chapter I want to give a brief overview over the general theoretical approaches in rural geography and rurality. The approaches described here serve as a basis for my analysis and are used in order to get a broad understanding of the development in the village of Bara.

In contemporary geography there are several approaches for analysing rurality, rural planning and how places are used by people in connection with rural development. For the critical analysis of the golf course development in Bara and in order to understand this rural development it is important to understand what rurality really is and how people see rurality. The conception of rurality is different among different people and therefore subjective. Nevertheless by conceptualising rurality one can gain a better understanding for it. In the chapter “Conceptualizing Rurality” in the “Handbook of Rural Studies” Paul Cloke named two different main approaches for conceptualising rurality: the cultural turn and hybridities. The cultural turn refers to the shift from the classical study of socio-economic changes in the rural areas to the focus on cultural aspects. This is often seen in connection with a desocialised, dematerialised, depoliticised and deconstructionist research of rurality. In Clokes opinion the cultural turn means a turn towards identity studies, studies about the immaterial (for example the subjective contents of emotions and relations), a less political engagement, a form of intellectualising research away from socio-political aspects, which connects to the previous aspects in the cultural turn in rural studies (Cloke 2006: 22-23). Nevertheless much of the research work in rural studies is unaffected by the cultural turn and still relies on not theorized, positivistic and materialistic approaches. Further the cultural turn is mainly concerned with cities and urban development and not with, for example, the re-imagining of rurality. Consequently the cultural turn approach is quite absent in rural studies (Cloke 2006: 23-24).

The conceptualization of rural hybridities is related to the cultural turn, but has a different concept. With the hybridities approach Cloke sees a way of taking advantage of the cultural turn by accepting the claims of it: the importance of space and of trying to re-socialise, re-materialise and re-politicise the approaches to be able to analyse rurality. In order to do so Cloke suggests the Deleuzian ideas, which means that rural space is expressed “in the folded relations between rural reference and rural experience” (Cloke 2006: 24). What is valid for the research of cities and urban spaces can also be valid for rural research. In Clokes opinion rural researchers can approach rurality “by seeking the intermesh between flesh and stone, humans and non-humans, fixture and flows and emotions and practises” (Cloke 2006: 25). If this was legitimate in rural research approaches the results of the researches would be more different and involve several aspects of the understanding of rurality and rural spaces (Cloke 2006: 25). Further Cloke thinks that “narratives of hybrid rural spaces can be constructed” (Cloke 2006: 24), a new way of conceptualising rurality. An example of that is the use of the Lefebvrian ideas of spatial representation and spatial practise for emphasising rurality and rural spaces “as a socially produced set of manifolds” by Halfacree (Cloke 2006: 24). These ideas bring material and imaginative conceptions of rurality and rural spaces together with the help of the connection of different practices. Using these ideas would automatically lead to a connection of the material, the imaginative and the practise and one would see them as integrated rather than separated. In addition that would lead to a stronger re-materialisation of research approaches of rurality and rural spaces. The challenge here lies in finding and identifying the most important practises that can express the internal and external connections between the imaginative and the materialistic worlds of rurality and rural spaces (Cloke 2006: 24-25).

The last general theoretical point that I want to make here is concerned with critical social theory in rural studies. Critical social theory is one of the main approaches in contemporary rural studies and is useful for investigating the development project in the village of Bara. Within rural geography critical social theory is often concerned with theories about different processes in rural spaces and places and especially with “capital restructuring”, as Phillips puts it (Phillips 1994: 90). Research using critical social theory often criticises society and this is also the case in rural geography and rural studies in general. There is an ongoing antagonism towards rural studies and rural geography by critical social researchers. In their opinion the traditional approaches do not see the social problems in rural development and in rural spaces and places since focusing on identity and less problematic issues. The focus in the research of critical social researchers and researchers with a different theoretical background is often similar but the problem lies within the approaches. Those do not analyse the development in rural areas, spaces and places critically and therefore produce a kind of status quo in theorising rural studies and rural geography. When critical social theory is used in research on rurality and rural spaces and places it is often regarded as a more practical way of approaching rurality, in the sense of emancipatory research. Consequently research produced with critical social theory as a basis does result in new theoretical and critical knowledge to a high degree compared to research with the cultural turn approach as a basis, which I described above (Phillips 1994: 90-91).



ISBN (eBook)
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Institution / Hochschule
Lunds Universitet – Department of social and economic geography
Neo-liberalising Skåne Bara



Titel: Neo-liberalising the countryside of Skåne - the golf course development in Bara