Sunday, 27 March 2011

Growth + localism = trouble

Many have pointed out that the coalition's 'localism' and 'growth' agendas are on a collision course. The doublethink that is involved was identified a while back by the late political philosopher Jerry Cohen who lamented so-called conservatives who 'blather on about warm beer and old maids cycling to church and then they hand Wal-Mart the keys to the kingdom'.

The rise of nimbyism has coincided with that of planning policies about 'town centre first', building on brownfield land before green field etc. If high density mixed use walkable neighbourhoods are the goal, then things need to be built close to, if not actually in, people's back yards. Thirty years ago, we were building supermarkets and business parks well away from anywhere that anyone lived, and well away from anywhere nice.

The downside of prioritising the preferences of the nimbies could be more hypermarkets on the ring road. An alternative upside model would be to build some proper new towns.

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