Banner


Lord Rogers: “this is the age of cities…the only sustainable form of development is the compact, polycentric city”




This is an extract of a speech by Lord Rogers, in response to the draft National Planning Policy Framework, in the UK, consisting of a set of reforms aimed at making the planning system less complex and more accessible, and to promote sustainable growth.

This is the age of cities. More than half the world’s population lives in cities. It was 10 per cent 100 years ago and is expected to be 80 per cent in 30 years’ time.

People move to cities to find jobs, to be creative and to mix. There is a correlation between prosperity and urbanisation. There continue to be strong economic and social arguments for prioritising the intensification of existing settlements over greenfield or otherwise remote development. Surprisingly, there is no mention of the use of brownfield or derelict land in the national framework, even though there is no shortage of brownfield sites. The Department for Communities and Local Government’s own figures show that despite substantial reuse, there remains virtually the same quantity of available brownfield land as there was 10 years ago, when I chaired its urban task force.

I believe the only sustainable form of development is the compact, polycentric city, which is well-connected and encourages walking and the use of public transport, where public spaces and buildings are well-designed and the poor and rich can live in close proximity. The intensification of existing settlements is economically efficient because it optimises the use of existing infrastructure and the embedded energy within schools, hospitals, roads and homes. Cities such as Vancouver, Portland, New York, especially Manhattan, and compact European cities are more than five times as energy efficient as sprawling cities such as Detroit, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Read the full speech here