The theory that higher density development can help reverse climate change was rubbished today by the Town & Country Planning Association.
The TCPA argued that UK temperatures could be kept at their present level if developers built to a lower density and ensured that enough trees and green spaces were included in new housing schemes.
Launching a report - Eco-towns and the next 60 years of planning – at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, the TCPA said there needed to be more space in and around buildings with more tree planting and green roofs.
Adding just 10% to the existing green cover in high density areas could cause enough evapo-transpiration that cools the air to keep UK temperatures at present levels until 2080. Combining this with a comprehensive programme of green roofs would keep temperatures below current levels throughout the century. In contrast, reducing green cover by 10% would see cities in Southern England experiencing temperatures of more than 40C on a regular basis.
"We have to adapt the way we build and live in our homes to cope with uncomfortably high temperatures," said TCPA chief executive Gideon Amos.
"Responding to this requires innovative use of space within and around buildings. We need homes and gardens with generous tree cover to both complement the growing amount of high density development. Ill thought through promotion of high density to save land can do much to exacerbate the problems. Large canopy trees, green cover and green roofs where there is no space for a garden at ground level can all help to keep summer temperatures in cities cooler and minimise the risk of urban flooding."