- More Sustainable Planning - the UK Experience    click here to open paper content176 kb
by    Gossop, Chris | chris.gossop@pins.gsi.gov.uk   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
The author assesses some of the first results of the UK Government's attempts to encourage more sustainable forms of development.
More Sustainable Planning – the UK Experience

Dr Chris Gossop – the Planning Inspectorate, Bristol.

The United Kingdom has a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010 compared with 1990 levels. Reductions even of this scale, modest compared with those that will eventually be needed, pose immense challenges to decision makers. For in some sectors of our economy, the trend is still in the wrong direction with more resources being used, not less. In the case of transport, for example, CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow. As in numerous other countries, this is in part a reflection of established patterns of land use and the movement of people and jobs over many decades.

The UK’s urban settlements began to spread out from about the 1870s, a trend that was enabled first by the development of good public transport and, more recently, by growing car ownership. Increasing concern over the uncontrolled loss of rural land, the sprawl of ribbon development, and increasing traffic congestion, led eventually to the establishment of the UK’s town and country planning system. But while the achievements of that system are plain to see - for example, the 30 new towns and the English green belts – much planning era development has itself been of relatively low density and it is highly car dependent.

For the last decade, however, UK spatial planning has had a new emphasis, that of reducing the need to travel, especially by car, and of promoting accessibility to jobs and services by public transport, walking and cycling. It is an important component of our national sustainable development strategy. The `new planning’ promoted by central government seeks a more economical, less car dependent, use of land. It seeks to concentrate 60% of new housing development on land that can be recycled, on brownfield as opposed to green field sites. Coupled with this, it requires higher densities, with less space being given over to car parking but, at the same time, plenty of green space. It involves a closer mixture of housing and employment, as well as other uses.

Some past attempts to build more densely have a poor reputation and these helped fuel the past exodus from inner areas. As the Urban Task Force has indicated, the success of the new strategy will depend crucially on better design – with its social, economic and environmental dimensions.
This presentation seeks to assess some of the first results of the new approach. London is an important `laboratory’ for these ideas, exemplified by the redevelopment of the Greenwich peninsular. Over the next 15 years, the city is set to accommodate a further 700,000 people and the success of such schemes will be critical to that goal. Other case studies will be taken from Bristol and Birmingham.

CJG 1/4/02

Sustainability, design, transport
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