Modus viewpoint: whither planning at the rural urban fringe
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Modus viewpoint: whither planning at the rural urban fringe

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  • 1. Intelligence // Opinion We need a vision for the ruralurban fringe Alister Scott Birmingham City University M conflicting governance arrangements. A good example is the new Local Nature Partnerships and Local Enterprise Partnerships, which each produce separate strategies at different scales, mushrooming the various strategies that already exist. Crucially, no one is directing this increasingly disconnected and out-of-tune orchestra, which lacks any coherent vision other than the singleminded pursuit of economic growth. While the National Planning Policy Framework heralded a brave attempt to simplify planning guidance, the emerging Local Plans lack any regional or national plans to inform them. As a planner championing concepts of equity, connectivity and long-termism, I despair at this lack of joined-up strategy, scrutiny and delivery. And as an academic, I equally despair at the increasing trend of using policy-based evidence to support economic growth. Ironically, our disintegrated and short-term thinking around planning threatens to overlook the assets of environment and community that are needed most. Alister Scott is professor of environmental and spatial planning at Birmingham City University. Sustainability Property sector cuts energy consumption The global real-estate sector is reducing its environmental impact, according to the 2013 report from the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark. Based on sustainability data gathered from some 49,000 properties, owned by 543 property companies and funds worldwide, the report found 08 rics.org branching out Plans for the UK’s first Airport City, an £800m property development on Manchester’s ruralurban fringe energy consumption in the sector decreased by 4.8% over the 2011-2012 period, while water consumption reduced by 1.2% and greenhouse gas emissions were down by 2.5%. Furthermore, strong regional differences in energy reductions were found – for example, the property sector in Europe saw only a small decrease in energy consumption (-0.7%) compared to North America, which had the largest reductions globally, with a decrease of -6.6% for energy consumption and -4.8% for greenhouse gas emissions. ‘It’s encouraging to see progress made by global market leaders, but this doesn’t cover the whole sector,’ says Ursula Hartenberger, RICS Head of Sustainability. ‘More efforts are needed by all stakeholders to improve data collection and management in order to optimise overall building performance across all market segments, not just the top tier portfolios.’ Read the report at bit.ly/GRESB_2013. Images Corbis; Simon Price/Alamy uch of the contemporary debate about the delivery of economic growth and protection of the countryside is being played out in what many people see as the ‘battleground’ of the rural-urban fringe. Here, at the intersection of town and countryside, where interests and values clash over development proposals, there is an unhelpful dualism between perceived ‘greedy’developers and‘NIMBY’protestors. At the heart of this lies a fixation with issues of housing supply, which artificially turns the planning debate into an argument between those who support new housing development and those who don’t. We need to move beyond this by re-examining the kind of places we want to live in, and by building bold interventions around a bigger vision, where place-making connects with the 21st century. The roots of planning lie with the visionaries who saw the need for policy intervention to address overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in many Victorian cities, linking high-quality living environments with cohesive communities and thriving local economies. We urgently need to update this vision, but contemporary planning is hindered by a crisis of confidence and identity. Continual government interference leads to reactive and disintegrated governance of the built and natural environment, reflecting different histories, agencies, approaches and strategies. For example, the current emphasis on localism sits uncomfortably with landscape-scale approaches for the management of natural resources, and these tensions are exacerbated by administrative silos that hinder collaboration and cooperation, and inadvertently lead to