smart growth uk

Blogs

Reports Of The Death Of Dr Beeching Have Been Exaggerated

Headlines about the new national strategic vision for rail concentrated on an alleged Government plan to reverse Beeching, which must have been a relief to ministers given that the document looks like making our dysfunctional franchising system even worse and more expensive to the taxpayer. Reversin...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 07 December 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For

There has been much understandable relief that chancellor Philip Hammond ignored calls from flaky think-tanks for wholesale releases of land in green belts for housing. But his Budget was very far from good news in many other ways. There were a few good things in it on the brownfield housing front a...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 24 November 2017

Predict And Arrive

I was recently challenged to produce a plan for building five million homes in over the next 50 years. My initial reaction was to react like the apocryphal bloke in deepest rural Ireland who, asked by a passing motorist the way to Limerick, replied that if he were going to Limerick, he wouldn-apos-t...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 20 November 2017

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.