smart growth uk

Blogs

Show Me The Way To Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle is an attractive little town, popular with visitors and in the news recently for some unknown reason. Visitors, of course, have been staying away thanks to lock-down but Barney is lucky its economy is not wholly dependent on them or the small shops also closed up as, unusually for Cou...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 29 May 2020

Pompous And Patronizing

When the history of the 2020 coronavirus crisis comes to be written, one thing likely to strike historians is the way the mainstream media took its eye off everything else and devoted its entire coverage to the minutiae of the health emergency. The results will by then be painfully obvious. While th...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 14 May 2020

We Are Still Watching

It must be an extremely frustrating time to be a journalist, not just because they are confined to barracks like the rest of us, but because they are only permitted to report on one issue. Of course the health emergency is the main issue of the day and must dominate the news, but it has managed to e...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 26 April 2020

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.