Welcome to the new Smart Growth UK website

Our new website comes at a time of great challenge in UK planning and transportation policy, a time when Smart Growth policies have never been more sorely needed.

We live in a world where the climate and biodiversity emergencies are, at long last, widely recognised, though woeful policies in the run-up to COP26 show meaningful action remains beyond the reach of many countries.

Here, the pandemic has taken our loved ones, left others struggling with long-term illness, damaged and destroyed businesses, caused immense social upheaval and hurt our education system. Brexit meanwhile, whatever its rights and wrongs, has been done in such a way it has further damaged the economy and threatens the Union.

These challenges, however, have helped obscure our country’s poor response to climate change and biodiversity. We rightly congratulate ourselves on the elimination of coal from power generation, but our transport and planning policies remain wedded to land-hungry, high-carbon development.

This is true throughout the country, but the devolved administrations are at least a little less wedded to car-dependent sprawl. You sometimes wonder if you’d hear Beatles music and see Mary Quant fashions in Whitehall ministries, such is their devotion to the policies of the 1960s.

The Treasury is now into its 19th year of imposing greenfield housing sprawl on local planning authorities and, for the past nine, that has been the profitable low-density development volume house builders find so profitable.

England is Europe’s most densely populated country, yet we continue to squander our precious land, destroying the agriculture we need to feed us and the biodiversity on which we depend with utterly reckless abandon.

Meanwhile a huge motorway building programme, easy pickings for truck-dependent distribution systems and airport expansion add to destruction of our environment.

Despite this, people are now coming together to challenge these orthodoxies.

The new Community Planning Alliance is already bringing together more than 400 grassroots campaigns challenging environmentally destructive projects. Campaigns to reopen railways, as advocated in our report last year, are springing up widely. And slowly the penny is beginning to drop about climate change even among folk who have spent years buying newspapers which told them they didn’t need to worry.

To the disappointment of some vested interests, Smart Growth UK and its range of supporters remains in good health.

We will continue to challenge destructive ideas like the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and poor planning policies and keep up our advocacy of sustainable transport. We will push for towns and cities that function sustainably, we will fight to protect the countryside and we will struggle to advocate meeting housing need rather than developer greed.

Finally, let me thank Barry Bennett at Firestorm Online for developing the new site.

In the months to come I look forward to growing support for our movement inspired, as ever, by those who push for Smart Growth and Smart Growth-type policies worldwide.

Jon Reeds