Topics for enhanced town planning: #6 to #10 | Brussels Blog

Topics for enhanced town planning: #6 to #10

posted by on 24th Jun 2019

We must find new ways of living: New pleasant ways of living that do not destroy our planet..


#6 Car-free cities are cheaper

n 1992, Carlo Ripa di Meana was the European Commission Environment Commissioner. He called for cities to be free of cars he said he was ready to become car-less, and so should other city dwellers, to prevent Europe’s cities being choked by the internal combustion engine.

He publicised a study he had commissioned showing that it would cost between 2 and 5 times less to live and work in car-free cities because of the savings people could make in not having cars to buy, park, insure and maintain.

A press release from the European Commission in 1992 said:

Based on these observations, Carlo RIPA di MEANA, the European Environment Commissioner, has had a study carried out on car-free cities in an attempt to find the answer to the following question: Is it possible, and if so to what extent, to conceive of a city which will operate more efficiently than the type of cities we have at present, using alternative means of transport to the private car?

The answer provided by the study is positive, even in purely financial terms: the car-free city costs between two and five times less (the costs varying depending on the population density of the city).

That study may have hastened his exit from the European Commission


#7 Low carbon food, locally grown

The globalization of food supply is a large part of our carbon emissions due to transport and industrialised farming. Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, particularly cows and sheep, are enormous. Livestock husbandry can change good food into much less food. For example, large amounts of corn are fed to cattle to produce much smaller quantities of beef.

Modern industrialised farming destroys soil fertility, kills beneficial insects and may bring on the ‘nitrate time bomb’.

Other farming methods (organic, labour-intensive, polyculture) can exceed the food production of industrialised farming. They use much less land and produce varied crops making them suitable for local delivery- cutting food miles. They also create local employment.

Local labour-intensive food production can be much greener than industrialised farming. It can protect soil health and beneficial insects. It creates local employment and reduces food miles.

See Singing Frogs Farm and Market Garden City.


#8 Reforesting and rewilding

Reforesting is promoted as one way of taking carbon dioxide out of the air. Simple estimates based on yields suggest that over 10 tonnes CO2e per hectare per year can be achieved. However, some research shows this may be high and sequestration rates might be much lower in practice, depending on where reforestation occurs.

In addition, there are other potential problems associated with planting trees. They can make the Earth’s surface darker trapping more of the Sun’s heat. Volatile organic compounds emitted by trees may similarly have a warming effect.

Rewilding is another option. This differs from planned planting – wild biomass is just allowed to flourish. It’s cheaper and may have other advantages, such as less solid disturbance and encouraging wildlife.

Localities differ greatly so whether tree planting or rewilding is applicable in planning the locality of a new settlement is a matter of research.


#9 Housing cost underpinned by planning permission

The cost of building and development does vary a bit throughout the country. The website Total Jobs shows salaries for construction that are 50% higher in Central London than the rest of the country but in North London and West London, a few miles away, they are only slightly above the norm.

House prices in Enfield, North London, at more than four times the price of houses in the North of England. This is not caused by building costs. It is not caused by the cost of materials. It is the development value of the land that makes the difference. Across the most of UK the cost of construction for similar buildings does not differ very much.

The development value of land for building is almost completely the value of the planning permission. Without the possibility of planning permission, nearly all the value disappears from “development land” disappears. The value of the planning permission is high in places where the demand for housing exceeds the supply.

This is a topic for further research.


#10 Friends and neighbours

Much of the brutalist public housing built in the 1970s has been demolished. The failure gave rise to renewed interest in theories about how architecture might determine behaviour. Architectural Determinism is a term used to describe these theories.

The defensible space of Oscar Newman, friendship patterns investigated by Leon Festinger and the ‘personal space theories of Edward T Hall are all instructive. However, this is an area which has had too little attention from town planners and architects.

It can be contentious but the effects of layout on social interactions must be an area of consideration for Enhanced Town Planning.

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