Practically Realising Prosperity - Katie Williams


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Professor Katie Williams - Director of the Centre for Environment and Planning, UWE - delivers a speech to SWO Conference delegates on how through housing planners might help to 'realise prosperity'.

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Practically Realising Prosperity - Katie Williams

  1. 1. Sustainable communities in the South West: how can we achieve quantity and quality? Professor Katie Williams Director, Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments , University of the West of England, Bristol
  2. 2. Setting the context.. <ul><li>There will be large scale housing (urban) growth in the South West: 36%household growth, 40 urban extensions </li></ul><ul><li>The aim is to accommodate this growth in sustainable (prosperous) communities , not more ‘placeless’ single-use housing developments </li></ul><ul><li>We have had government guidance and a sustainable-communities focused rhetoric for over 10 years now </li></ul><ul><li>But we are struggling to deliver sustainable communities in the UK: we are failing in quality and quantity </li></ul><ul><li>What could we do to deliver better places ? </li></ul>
  3. 3. The presentation.. <ul><li>What is meant by a sustainable community ? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do we want them? </li></ul><ul><li>How are they delivered in the UK? </li></ul><ul><li>What progress is being made? </li></ul><ul><li>How could we do things better? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A more sophisticated vision of sustainable communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better evidence base </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better delivery processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some international learning </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What is a sustainable community? <ul><li>New or regeneration schemes </li></ul><ul><li>Mixture of physical and non-physical qualities </li></ul><ul><li>Balanced and integrated social, economic and environmental components </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on housing and other uses and needs of communities (now and in the future) </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed communities (not just social/private housing) </li></ul>
  5. 5. What is a sustainable community? <ul><li>A community that has: </li></ul><ul><li>a flourishing local economy </li></ul><ul><li>strong leadership </li></ul><ul><li>effective engagement and participation (especially in the planning, design and long-term stewardship of the community) </li></ul><ul><li>active voluntary and community sector </li></ul><ul><li>diverse, vibrant and creative local culture </li></ul><ul><li>safe and healthy local environment </li></ul><ul><li>well-designed public and green space </li></ul><ul><li>good public transport and other transport infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>buildings that can meet different needs over time and that minimise the use of resources </li></ul><ul><li>well integrated mix of decent homes of different types and tenures </li></ul><ul><li>good quality local public services </li></ul><ul><li>sense of place </li></ul><ul><li>right links with the wider regional, national and international community </li></ul><ul><li>sufficient size, scale and density and the right layout to support basic amenities in the neighbourhood and minimise use of resources (including land) (summarised from ODPM, 2003, p.5) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Source, image below CABE
  7. 11. Why do we want sustainable communities? <ul><li>To avoid past failures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mass social housing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor design (urban and architectural) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ineffective regeneration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To address the sustainability agenda </li></ul><ul><li>As an acceptable solution to unpopular new development (including eco-towns) </li></ul>
  8. 12. How are sustainable communities delivered in the UK? <ul><li>‘ Shared endeavour’ ( CLG, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Private, public and third sector agencies involved </li></ul><ul><li>Via spatial planning (national, regional and local levels) </li></ul><ul><li>A number of delivery partners : e.g. private development firms, local authorities, The Housing Corporation, English Partnerships </li></ul><ul><li>Key professionals: planners, architects, urban designers, engineers, utility providers </li></ul><ul><li>Phased over long time periods </li></ul>Ingress Park development, image copyright Morag Lindsay
  9. 13. What progress is being made? <ul><li>Difficult to assess </li></ul><ul><li>Still a minority of all new schemes (mainly in the South East): we identified 150 schemes in the UK </li></ul><ul><li>Performing better than norms in terms of urban design, energy efficiency, travel behaviour and community development </li></ul><ul><li>Not delivering on community cohesion : many just dormitory settlements (suffer from remoteness) </li></ul><ul><li>Not delivering joined up housing and service provision </li></ul><ul><li>Many initial sustainability elements do not get delivered </li></ul><ul><li>Findings from reports by Williams, 2007; Williams and Lindsay, 2007; Sustainable Development Commission, 2007; Power 2004; CLG, 2006; TCPA, 2004, RICS, 2007 </li></ul>
  10. 17. Why is this? <ul><li>‘ One of the shortcomings of the predominant build-for-sale housing model is that the developer does not retain long-term interest in the site . There is no incentive to produce a design better than the minimum needed to make a sale , and issues such as the design of the public realm and long term maintenance can be sidelined without any impact on profit. ’ (Liz Pearce, Chief Exec, British Property Federation) </li></ul>
  11. 18. Why is this? <ul><li>Mismatch between partners (regulators and regulated) aspirations, objectives and timescales </li></ul><ul><li>Not enough local benefits from development: housing numbers seen as an imposition not a responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>Problems of complexity, number of agents, mismatched regulatory and funding systems, phasing of infrastructure and amenities etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Private investment is difficult to secure and maintain </li></ul><ul><li>Community participation is problematic - difficult to maintain momentum, manage expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Skills base is poor (within and between professions) </li></ul>
  12. 19. What could we do to deliver better quality and quantity? <ul><li>1. Develop a more sophisticated vision of what we want to achieve: </li></ul><ul><li>Lose the obsession with finding ‘one model’ of developing sustainable communities: multiple guises, not one size fits all (could include different urban forms, designs, scales, more local solutions) </li></ul><ul><li>Find solutions focused around agreed principles (of sustainable development: prudent use of resources, equity) but then realise a range of solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Understand that with multiple visions go wide-ranging actions (some top-down, some bottom-up, large and small scale), and these vary in time and scale </li></ul>
  13. 20. What could we do to deliver better quality and quantity? <ul><li>2.Develop a stronger evidence base around sustainable communities and act on it. </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor what works and what doesn’t </li></ul><ul><li>Much good practice is now just ‘accepted wisdom’, and is not based on learning or evidence </li></ul><ul><li>The are no awards for learning from our mistakes! </li></ul>
  14. 21. Example 1. Source: Bramley and Power, 2009
  15. 22. Example 2: number of cars owned in ‘sustainable developments’ compared with national averages % <ul><li>But sustainable behaviours increased in high quality environments </li></ul><ul><li>And when there were groups of features designed to support sustainable lifestyles </li></ul>
  16. 23. Example 3: study on the relationship between quality and social cohesion
  17. 24. What could we do to deliver better quality and quantity? <ul><li>3. Develop more sustainable and effective delivery mechanisms: </li></ul><ul><li>Maximise what we CAN do within the current system (learning from good practice in the UK) </li></ul><ul><li>Maximise the variety of public-private partnership models that can be used, depending on local circumstances (Studdert, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure committed leadership from individuals or organisations, with medium or long term aspirations (could be from LA, architects, developer, community, land owner) </li></ul><ul><li>Develop teams with ‘mutual’ interests : often schemes with rental elements do better </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure highly skilled team members </li></ul><ul><li>Provide good project management and community engagement : so all stakeholders involved early enough </li></ul><ul><li>BUT: Many good schemes have ‘non-standard’ funding/land ownership etc. – so models hard to replicate </li></ul>
  18. 25. What could we do to deliver better quality and quantity? <ul><li>4. Learn from places where higher quality and faster housing delivery works, e.g. mainland European models: </li></ul><ul><li>Local authorities have greater local autonomy and financial independence, and work within more flexible regional planning frameworks : they lead in master planning and engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Local authorities are often landowners (or have some stake in the land) and can therefore demonstrate leadership; they can also borrow money at cheaper rates from municipal banks to forward-fund </li></ul><ul><li>A wider range of house-builders is involved self-procurement groups, private and social landlords, etc. Hence a wider choice of types and tenures of housing, and more long term interests. </li></ul><ul><li>Schemes have local support because of sustained involvement and visible benefits (Studdert, 2009; Falk and Hall, 2009) </li></ul>
  19. 26. Vathorst, Amersfoort NL Images copyright freeimages,
  20. 27. Conclusions <ul><li>It is possible, but very difficult to deliver truly sustainable communities in the UK </li></ul><ul><li>We need people involved who are skilled, more pro-active, confident and visionary </li></ul><ul><li>We need to base our actions on evidence of what works and doesn’t: especially how people want to live! </li></ul><ul><li>We need to focus on quality: would you like to live there? </li></ul><ul><li>We need to press for wider changes that move us towards the benefits of the European models </li></ul>
  21. 28. Conclusions <ul><li>‘ The city is rooted in the habits and customs of the people who inhabit it. The consequence is that the city possesses a moral as well as a physical organisation, and these two mutually interact in characteristic ways to mold (sic) and modify one another’ </li></ul><ul><li>(Park, 1915) </li></ul>
  22. 29. Publications by Katie Williams and Nicholas Falk
  23. 30. References <ul><li>CABE (2009) who Should Build Our Homes?, CABE 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>CLG (2007) Eco-Towns prospectus, </li></ul><ul><li>CLG, (2007) Homes for the Future, </li></ul><ul><li>DEFRA (2006) Sustainable Communities: A shared agenda, a share of the action, TSO, Norwich </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Falk N and Hall P (2009) Why not Here? Town and Country Planning, Jan. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Falk N (2008) Beyond Eco-towns: The Economic Issues, URBED </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Falk N (2008) Making Eco-Towns work: Developing Vathorst, Amersfoort NL </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Guy S and Marvin S (1999) Understanding Sustainable Cities: Competing Urban futures, European and Regional Studies, Vol.6, No.3, pp. 268-275 </li></ul><ul><li>ODPM (2003) Sustainable Communities Plan, </li></ul><ul><li>Park, RE (1915) The City: suggestions for the investigation of human behaviour in the city environment, The American Journal of Sociology, vol. 20, No 5, pp.577-612. </li></ul><ul><li>Williams K (2010) Sustainable Cities, research and practice challenges, International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development, 1(1) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Williams and Lindsay (2007) The Extent and Nature of Sustainable Building in England: An Analysis of Progress, Planning theory and Practice, 8(1), pp 27-45 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Williams K and Dair C (2007) What is Stopping Sustainable Building in England? Barriers Experienced by Stakeholders in Delivering Sustainable Developments </li></ul></ul>