smart growth uk

Blogs

Yellow Days

As the world meets in Poland to discuss, yet again, what to do about climate change, those who hold shares in oil, coal or gas will have taken heart from the Gilet Jaune movement in France which has driven its Government to abandon plans to raise oil prices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The ne...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 07 December 2018

Village Football, Armaments And The Planning System

When I was much younger, I kept a rather dull daily diary for a few years. The brief entry for 22 November 1975 reminds me that Eynsham Reserves played away versus Adlestrop in the Cup, on the pitch at Oddington. Unfortunately we lost 1-6 and I noted that I thought Adlestrop was in Gloucestershire. ...

Posted by Nigel Pearce on 04 December 2018

Democracy, Populism And Planning

All around the world, democracy is facing a bit of a shaky future. We may have been here before, but the travails that beset the world last time this happened inspire little confidence in the future, even if democracy survived. Right now, learned academics are grappling with new definitions of popul...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 25 November 2018

A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH

The radical planning philosophy that blends old ways with new

Smart Growth is a sustainable approach to planning that emphasises compact and accessible urban communities and which opposes urban sprawl and car dependency.

It seeks traditional ways of planning towns based around local services, ease of walking and cycling and good public transport, especially rail-based.

It looks for ways to rebuild our lost sense of community.

WHAT IS SMART GROWTH?

Here in the UK we are rightly proud of our historic towns and cities, our beautiful countryside and a planning system which protects our environment. But, for a whole string of reasons, our small and overcrowded country has spent 100 years creating urban sprawl and a transport system fatally dependent on the car and the motor lorry.

Despite its large areas of moor and mountain, the UK is a very densely populated country and England is now Europe’s most densely populated country. Some parts are short of water and our shrinking farmland cannot meet all our food needs and so there is strong opposition to the urban sprawl which some claim is necessary to house our population.

Climate change means we need to use less fossil fuel, yet we have a transport system which accounts for more than a quarter of our emissions, our public transport is expensive and often inadequate and the fabric and economies of many of our towns and cities have decayed.

Smart Growth is a holistic concept which treats a range of spatial, transport and community planning and regeneration challenges in the round. Its origins lie in a country where the damage done by sprawl, car dependency and urban deprivation far exceeded our own – America. Yet extreme challenges often prompt the best solutions and, over the past 20 years, the Smart Growth movement has increasingly tackled these problems.

Today, many US inner cities are regenerating economically and socially and being equipped with the rail-based public transport many of our cities desperately need. Cities are being remodelled to help people to walk or cycle, high quality public transport is being provided and America’s fatal car dependency is being addressed. Meanwhile its sprawling suburbs are feeling the chill wind of higher fuel prices, falling house prices and social decline.

Recent years have pointed the need for UK planning, transport and community policies to take a new path. Smart Growth UK, an informal coalition of organisations and individuals interested in promoting the Smart Growth concept in this country, formulated an initial set of principles in 2007 and in 2013 a range of organisations gave their support to a policy statement Meeting the Growth Challenge which sets out the challenges we face and proposes principles for a sustainable response.