Neighbourhood Revival: Towards Sustainable Suburbs

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South East England
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The South East England Regional Assembly commissioned URBED to advise on the need for a distinct focus on suburban issues in the South East Plan.  A number of local authorities are concerned that communities have experienced poorly designed development, increasing reliance on the car, decline in local shopping centres and a lack of community services and infrastructure to meet their needs. The Assembly has now addressed these concerns in new policies on suburban management, design and infrastructure in the South East Plan.Five case studies, that represented a range of suburban situations, demonstrated that suburban neighbourhoods can be assessed systematically, and classified in terms of four categories (with appropriate actions), as follows:

  • areas of stability (with no need for immediate action)
  • areas at risk (or with special needs)
  • areas of opportunity (or with scope for intensification), and
  • areas of special character (or with features that needed protecting and enhancing).

Neighbourhood Score Cards were developed for use in stakeholder workshops in the case study areas to assess their physical and social health. They identified opportunities for improvement and priorities for action in each suburb, and highlighted four factors that were considered to be important for all:

  • choice (is there a mix of house types and values to accommodate all stages in a familys life cycle?)
  • connectivity (are there shops, services, open spaces and jobs within easy access?)
  • community (do people feel a sense of pride and belonging to their area?)
  • capacity (is there sufficient social infrastructure in terms of basic services such as health and education?)

Further, opportunities for new suburban centres could arise through mixed-use redevelopment or intensification of underused industrial estates or business parks.

  1. encourage local authorities to plan more proactively by, for example, developing Area Action plans
  2. support neighbourhood management schemes where there is an issue over service provision and deliver
  3.  identify new local funding mechanisms.

The full 50 page report and 5 case studies are downlaoadable from this page.

The five cases studies are: Sunninghill and Sunningdale in Windsor and Maidenhead; Tovil, Maidstone (Kent); Preston, Tadworth (Surrey); Cressex, High Wycombe (Buckinghamshire); Leigh Park, Havant (Hampshire).

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