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The future of sustainable cities

The future of sustainable cities: Critical reflections

John Flint
Mike Raco
Copyright Date: 2012
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  • Book Info
    The future of sustainable cities
    Book Description:

    This book investigates how the meanings and politics of urban sustainability are being radically rethought in response to the economic downturn and the credit crunch. In this ground-breaking contribution, prominent scholars provide up to date coverage of the impacts of recent changes on key areas of urban planning, including housing, transport, and the environment, and map out core areas for future research.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-949-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. v-v)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  5. Notes on contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  6. Section 1: The ‘new’ politics of sustainable urbanism

    • one Introduction: Characterising the ‘new’ politics of sustainability: from managing growth to coping with crisis
      (pp. 3-28)
      Mike Raco and John Flint

      The financial crisis of 2008 and its subsequent fallout will have a profound affect on the content and character of urban sustainability planning. For much of the 1990s and 2000s policy thinking and practice was primarily concerned with managing the social and environmental effects of unequal growth and development. The emphasis in the UK and elsewhere was on tackling housing shortages, renewing urban centres, planning for growth areas and re-using brownfield land. Welfare reforms across the European Union (EU) focused on the promotion of social and spatial cohesion and longer-term environmental protection, in a political context of unquestioned neoliberal globalisation...

    • two The sustainable city: an obituary? On the future form and prospects of sustainable urbanism
      (pp. 29-46)
      Mark Whitehead

      I recently encountered an interesting example of the irony that so often surrounds sustainable urban development. While visiting the city of Birmingham, an early morning local news segment caught my attention. Set against the backdrop of a traffic-laden M6 motorway, the newsreader earnestly reported that new statistics indicated that the Birmingham metropolitan area was finally heading out of economic recession. I immediately stopped what I was doing in order to hear what I assumed would be a rare piece of good news: unemployment down, I thought; perhaps welcome new investment in the city’s ailing manufacturing sector? Without a flicker of...

    • three Sustainable communities and English spatial policy
      (pp. 47-64)
      Allan Cochrane

      This chapter explores some of the ways in which, in the first decade of the 21st century, the notion of sustainable communities was used to frame a quite distinctive spatial development policy for England, even in the absence of any explicitly stated overall national plan. It considers the rise of sustainability as a language of governance, before moving on to a case study of the Sustainable Communities Plan (initially sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister), both in terms of its implications for the different regions of England and as a plan for the South East of England...

    • four Constructions of the carbon city
      (pp. 65-86)
      Will Eadson

      A century after Svante Arrhenius (1896) first presented his ‘hot house theory’, the creation of the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 was a landmark point in the recognition of climate change as a political concern. The Protocol included binding emissions reduction targets for 37 industrialised nations, which included the UK as part of a European Union (EU) bloc of 15 member states. This marked the point at which climate change policy first became a serious policy issue for nation states. It was a clear sign that a shift had taken place...

  7. Section 2: Building the sustainable city:: policy fields, current issues and themes

    • five The property industry and the construction of urban spaces: crisis or opportunity?
      (pp. 89-112)
      Tim Dixon

      This chapter explores the current shape and form of the UK property industry and its new approaches to urban regeneration in an era of change, focusing on both commercial and residential development.

      The chapter begins by examining the key players in the property development and investment processes, and examines current patterns of land and property ownership and how this has changed over the last 50 years. Key property market indicators are examined and the causes of the credit crunch and its implications for the property industry are reviewed. The chapter then examines the variety of development and investment vehicles available...

    • six Emerging strategies of urban reproduction and the pursuit of low carbon cities
      (pp. 113-130)
      Harriet Bulkeley, Mike Hodson and Simon Marvin

      Over the past decade, national governments, municipal authorities and a range of non-state actors in the UK and across the world have sought to position cities as critical sites for responding to the challenges of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapting to climate change. In so doing, the sustainable development agenda that dominated urban environmental agendas across the UK in the 1990s (Whitehead, 2003) began to be overwritten by an alternative vision of the sustainable city – one in which addressing climate change reigned supreme. In the process, not only have climate politics been significantly rearticulated across the global...

    • seven Transport in a sustainable urban future
      (pp. 131-152)
      Iain Docherty and Jon Shaw

      Transport is acknowledged as a vital ingredient of any credible strategy for the sustainable city because of the key role it plays in promoting economic development, quality of life and well-being. Yet managing urban transport effectively, given its complex and intersecting economic, environmental and social impacts, is also precisely the kind of ‘wicked problem’ that policy makers consistently find hard to resolve (Rittel and Webber, 1973; Conklin, 2006; Docherty and Shaw, 2011a; see also Chapter Nine, this volume). Many of the reasons for this are long-standing and emanate in particular from the dominance of the private car in meeting the...

    • eight Understanding UK sustainable housing policy
      (pp. 153-176)
      Chris Pickvance

      The aim of this chapter is to describe and explain the development of UK¹ sustainable housing policy. The chapter examines in turn the definition of sustainable housing, the four main types of UK sustainable housing policy and the main influences that have shaped them (see also Chapter Five, this volume). The chapter argues that sustainable housing policy has focused on technical aspects of housing rather than changing lifestyles or social justice elements (see Chapter Nine, this volume), and has been driven by international target commitments, proactive local authorities and lobbying by stakeholders. However, the economic climate since 2007 has slowed...

  8. Section 3: Placing sustainability:: contexts and conflicts

    • nine Urban ecological accounting: a new calculus for planning urban parks in the era of sustainability
      (pp. 179-202)
      Sarah Dooling

      This chapter explores the intersections of urban parks and green belts as a form of infrastructure that enhances a city’s overall sustainability (in relation to human and ecosystem health), and homeless people, as one of the most economically and politically vulnerable people using parks. When sustainability is defined as providing for the needs of the present populations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987), then homelessness (as those people who lack adequate, or are without, shelter) emerges as a particularly challenging aspect of urban sustainability. In fact, homelessness defies characteristics of sustainability. While...

    • ten Neighbourhood sustainability: residents’ perceptions and perspectives
      (pp. 203-224)
      John Flint

      Two defining characteristics of UK policy rationales linked to sustainability have been an emphasis on neighbourhoods and communities as the arenas in, and through which, sustainability will be achieved and a focus on the social sustainability of deprived urban areas (ODPM, 2003; Raco, 2007; Manzi et al, 2010). In these rationales, physical renewal and housing regeneration programmes have been allied to attempts to strengthen the cohesion and fabric of the social dynamics within neighbourhoods and, to a lesser extent, the connectivity between neighbourhoods. However, as Manzi et al (2010) suggest, the conceptualisation of social sustainability remains weak, and there is...

    • eleven Global city planning
      (pp. 225-240)
      Peter Newman

      The idea of the global city is contested in academic discourse. Questions are raised about the value of, and indeed the intellectual justification for, distinguishing a special group of cities in a world of increasingly interconnected cities. Sassen (2006, p x) attempts to hold on to the special place of the global city seen as ‘... an analytic construct that allows one to detect the global as it is filtered through the specifics of a place, its institutional orders, and its sociospatial fragmentations’. But such an indiscriminate definition cannot step clear of the main problem with the global city and...

  9. Section 4: Conclusions

    • twelve Towards a new politics of urban sustainability
      (pp. 243-252)
      Mike Raco and John Flint

      The credit crunch of 2008 and the economic recession that followed have brought into stark relief some of the core conceptual and policy tensions that exist in relation to sustainability planning. The chapters in this book have interrogated these tensions in a variety of policy fields and reflected on the implications of change for our understandings of sustainable urbanism. In this concluding chapter we explore some of the key conceptual and empirical challenges that now face researchers of sustainability, and identify the themes and issues that are in urgent need of study if academics are to play a significant role...

  10. Index
    (pp. 253-261)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 262-262)