Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Sustainable communities

The question

Deputy prime minister John Prescott's plans for 200,000 houses in the south east sit at the heart of this week's Sustainable Communities summit in Manchester. Are these high density urban housing developments sustainable communities or are we creating the slums of the future?

Looking at the way new towns have been developed in the past, planners certainly have plenty of examples of mistakes which they can hopefully learn from, both in the UK and other European countries. Creating a new community with high density housing is a very complicated process, and there is a great danger of creating future slums, particularly if the south east suffers an economic downturn. Transport requirements and public amenities should be considered hand in hand with housing, not left until after the first residents have moved in. For all the pitfalls, there seems no other way to satisfy the demand for affordable housing in the south east.

Mike Paul, 52, senior engineer, Stuttgart, Germany The Commons Environment Audit Committee's recent report says energy and transport needs for these developments have not been properly addressed. Although Prescott argues that the report was completed before new initiatives were announced, we still live on an island with limited land resources, so let us be good and responsible custodians of what we already have, instead of concreting over our countryside.

G Home, 55, director, North Yorkshire High density developments can produce attractive living environments and sustainable communities but only if the quality of design is high. One of my greatest worries is ensuring the provision of sufficient green space in the high density areas and making sure it is not occupied by cars, forced to use the green space because the level of car parking provision for each property is too low.

This is already apparent in many recent developments. In my view, car-free developments with investment in good public transport facilities will have an increasingly important role to play in high density areas.

The funding for public transport infrastructure must be made available if such developments are to succeed.

Bryan Stead, 58, independent transport consultant, Norfolk Erecting high-density housing, or bulldozing dwellings and replacing them with new may not put schemes on the road to failure. Sustainability looks for a balance between the extremes of the tightest costsaving economics, the greenest environmental solution and the happiest social outcome.

Jon Balley, 54, water engineer, Bucks Having watched the recent programme on climate change and global dimming, the proposed development of the Thames Gateway will inadvertently become the UK's Venice - so perhaps not very sustainable!

Charis Fowler, 32, senior engineer, Midlands

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.