A Funny Sort Of Crisis

The blog by Nigel Pearce suggesting we rethink the language of planning set me thinking about the way we do indeed use, and misuse, language. Nigel was particularly scathing about misuse of words like growth and sustainable and he is right. I must admit the phrase that currently sets my teeth on edg...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 16 March 2018


Rethinking The Language Of Planning

In many spheres of human activity, the vocabulary used by insiders and then taken up by those looking in from the outside, tends to drift over time into a kind of linguistic fuzziness. It then needs renewal to restore rigour to the underlying concepts and to ensure accountability if the concepts bec...

Posted by Nigel Pearce on 14 March 2018


Inter-varsity Mismatch

The rivalry between the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge has given us many spectacles like the Boat Race and varsity cricket or rugby matches, but the two have more in common than their rivalry would suggest. That may one day include a belt of low-density petrolhead suburbia, stretching ...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 01 March 2018


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Smart Growth UK is an informal coalition of organisations and individuals who seek to promote the Smart Growth approach in the United Kingdom.

The Smart Growth philosophy is an internationally recognised approach whose elements are designed to support one another to produce better environmental, social and economic outcomes. First developed in North America in response to hypersprawl and over-dependency on cars, it incorporates the best approaches to planning from all over the planet.

In the UK, however, entrenched attitudes are destroying our countryside unnecessarily, gridlocking our roads and causing massive and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. Car-dependent urban sprawl has been our default development mode for far too long.

There is a better way.

In 2013 the organisations supporting SGUK agreed a set of principles to guide its work:-

Urban areas work best when they are compact, with densities appropriate to local circumstances but generally significantly higher than low-density suburbia and avoiding high-rise. In addition to higher density, layouts are needed that prioritise walking, cycling and public transport so that they become the norm.

  • We need to reduce our dependence on private motor vehicles by improving public transport, rail-based where possible, and concentrating development in urban areas.
  • We should protect the countryside, farmland, natural beauty, open space, soil and biodiversity, avoiding urban sprawl and out-of-town development.
  • We should protect and promote local distinctiveness and character and our heritage, respecting and making best use of historic buildings, street forms and settlement patterns.
  • We should prioritize regeneration in urban areas and regions where it is needed, emphasising brownfield-first and promoting town centres with a healthy mix of facilities.
  • Civic involvement and local economic activity improve the health of communities.
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