People who live in compact, traditional towns have far smaller environmental footprints than those who live in sprawling suburbs. So why are we in thrall to urban sprawl? Are there better ways of getting about than by car? And how can 60 million people crammed into a small island find ways of treating it with respect?
Urban sprawl is unsustainable in an age of climate change and peak oil. But for 100 years the UK’s planning policies have been based on ideals of low-density living and attitudes that favour the individual over community, creating car-dependent lifestyles and destroying the countryside we love. This book explains what we must do to improve the quality of life in our overcrowded land.
Smart Growth argues that we should look to America – a country that embraced urban sprawl and car dependency on a far grander scale than we ever did, and is now finding answers to the problem. Its ‘Smart Growth’ movement is steering a course towards better-designed, compact cities and rail-based transit systems, thereby restoring communities ruined by decades of suburban insularity.
Part I – How we got here
1 A squandered land
2 The germination of a bad idea
3 Decline and sprawl – a century of spatial planning
4 The death and life of great British cities
5 Travelling hopelessly – a century of unsustainable transport [there is more after this page break – may not display at first view of table!]
Part II – Where we are
6 An unsustainable communities plan
7 Climate change and other future challenges
8 America – land of dreams
Part III – Where we need to be
9 Care and maintenance for a small country – Smart Growth planning
10 Care and maintenance of the countryside
11 Smart Growth transport
12 From consumers to citizens
13 News from Somewhere: a Smart Growth vision
14 Conclusions: urban rides
"It's both a great modern history of the British Landscape, and a handbook of good ideas for it's future development. It should be on the reading list for every planner in the country."
"Reeds is a zealous advocate for limiting car use, sprawl and Tesco; promoting localism, land re-use and dense city developments; and encouraging walking, cycling and something called 'functional communities'."
Jon Reed’s book lays bare the ghastliness of the sprawling development that has destroyed our cities, communities and much countryside, but is ultimately hopeful in charting a way to a better future through application of the principles of ‘smart growth”
Reeds’ acccount shows him to be knowledgeable, passionate, irreverent and, at times, exasperated about the state of our settlements. Smart Growth is required reading for anyone who cares about the future of land use planning in the UK.
“Jon Reeds sets out clearly the roots of car-dependent urban sprawl and charts a way out of it. This book should be read by anyone interested in practical ways to tackle climate change and car dependency.”
Jon Reeds is an environmental journalist who has worked alongside planners and transport planners for nearly 40 years and has observed their responses to the demands of modern environmentalism. In 2006 he helped found Smart Growth UK, a national coalition engaged in bringing a strong sustainable development ethos into the way we plan spatial development, transport and communities. He lives in London with his family.