The Compact City: A Sustainable Urban Form?

By Mike Jenks; Elizabeth Burton et al. | Go to book overview

Louise Thomas and Will Cousins


A New Compact City Form:Concepts in Practice

Introduction

Accessibility to facilities should be the guiding factor in moving towards more sustainable forms of development rather than development per se (Town and Country Planning Association, 1990, p. 4).

In the chapter presented earlier in this book, entitled The Compact City: A Successful, Desirable and Achievable Urban Form?, the hypothesis explored was that the 'compact city' as proposed by Friends of the Earth (Elkin et al., 1991), the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE, 1993) and in the Commission for the European Communities' (CEC, 1990) Green Paper on the Urban Environment is an inappropriate urban form for the future. There we suggest that its failure stems from its inability to meet and satisfy economic demands and energy efficiency measures, as well as its lack of popular and political support.

In order to perform as cities ought to-as the focus of diverse and often conflicting pressures-the compact city proposal appears to have a long way to go yet. However, the basic aspirations of the proposal are praiseworthy, and should be considered the prerequisites of any new urban form. Essentially, these are: compactness in scale, accessibility for all on foot, by bicycle and by public transport, and greater respect for wildlife. Research has shown that more 'decentralised concentrations' of development may provide a settlement pattern which is not only more environmentally sustainable, and more in tune with popular aspirations, but could also meet the demands of economic forces, and hence win political favour.

In this chapter we will present what we believe to be a new compact city form, where it is possible to achieve the positive attributes of the compact city, without resorting to draconian or 'Maoist' urban design and planning measures (Gordon and Richardson, 1989).

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