Our Towns And Cities - The Future
I just dug out my copy of the urban white paper published by the Labour government in 2000 and called Our Towns and Cities, The Future. Like all Labour governments, indeed, like most governments since the 1920s, it realised the vital importance of keeping the life of our cities healthy, economically...
Posted by Jon Reeds on 05 March 2014
A Contaminated System
Strange and mysterious things have been happening in the world of contaminated land regulation of late.
The system, set up throughout Great Britain by 1990 legislation and implemented in 2000, is a complex one. Most remediation of contaminated sites in this country occurs when a developer wishes to ...
Posted by Jon Reeds on 28 February 2014
Good Will Hunting
If 2014 is remembered for anything, it may be as the year when people finally started to take climate change seriously.
As we are rapidly and painfully discovering, nature does not play nice when you mess around with it, and our ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions have certainly messed it aroun...
Posted by Jon Reeds on 11 February 2014
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.