The Compact City and Sustainable Development
Recent research has proved that the form of a town or a city can affect its sustainability (1). This is not only because of the socio cultural factors but also mainly because of the shape, size, density and uses of a city.
This is obvious because the nature of business and the environment encompassing the city or town directly affects the sustainability of the city. Alongside, the increase in the urban intensifications anthem urban development in order to increase the use of the urban geography so as to increase the productivity, has further increased the need for a sustainable urban form only when the process of development and urban intensification will be effective in achieving the desired goal of urban development and sustainable urban form. The uncontrolled development and the increasing dispersal of the city further destruct the sustainable urban form.
The increase in pollution due to the highway traffic and industrial development has also made the city not environment-friendly eventually making the urban life un-sustainable as well as complicated. Hence the need for an environment-friendly and people-friendly urban form in order to gain sustainability and growth is essential.
This report aims to present an insight on the question that whether sustainable urban form is achievable or not. The idea of compact city life and sustainable urban form is increasing in the twenty-first century because of the increased problems faced by the authorities in co-ordinating the cities. Hence a research on this topic is imperative to provide an insight on the essential factors that contribute to the sustainable urban form and ultimately derive upon the conclusion of whether the sustainable urban form can be achieved or not.
1.2: Aim and Objectives
The aim of this report is to establish whether Sustainable urban forms achievable or not. The aim is accomplished by embracing the report on the following objectives
Objective 1: To conduct a critical analysis on the concept of sustainable development. This is achieved by analysing the existing situation of the urban life and analysing the governmental policies against the policies of Forum for the future. This analysis will throw light on the current situation of the urban form, which is essential to understand the need for a sustainable form and identify the existing barriers that contribute to the un-sustainability of the urban life.
Objective 2: Critically analyse the concept of compact city. Analyse its differences from the concept of dispersal and analyse the means of promoting social equity in compact city.
Objective 3: Critically discuss the different sustainable models and the implemented designs with examples.
Chapter 2: Problems of city life and sustainable development
This chapter commences with an overview of problems with city life that answers the question what is wrong with city life? This is then followed by an overview on sustainable development. The definitions of the sustainable development from both the academic front and the government definitions are presented to the reader with examples.
2.1: What is wrong with the city life?
The growth of the enterprise culture and the increase in the American style of dispersed business centres like the business parks and shopping supermarkets, away from the city has drained the city of its activity level and also increased the need for urban intensifications. The increased dispersal of the urban environment has also increased the pollution with increase in the traffic and driving habits of the general public to reach the places.
Alongside, the planning in the UlhÄs mainly hindered the actual physical form of the city and its districts (2) by concentrating more upon the two dimensional structure of the city rather than considering the actual physical form of the city to achieve a cohesive and sustainable urban form.
Furthermore, the cosmetic treatment of the existing streets and squares and the limited betterment of the hard and soft landscaping in the UlhÄs further reduced the sustainability of the urban form and above all increased the issues faced like pollution.
Another problem faced by the current city life is the singular model of the city and urban planning. This is because the singular approach to city life in different geographical locations is not applicable due tithe fact that the environmental factors and the socio-cultural factors vary with location and it is thus essential to analyse the urban form of city objectively in the light of the environmental factors of the individual city. Alongside, the singular approach to the urban design and planning not only hinders the sustainability but also affects the approach for a universal model for sustainable urban form (1).
Also, the current urban form of incorporating the city as a business centre has increased the imbalance in between the number of city-dwellers and the workers in the city. The fact that the people working in the city and surrounding areas tend to live in a different location and commute for their work on a day-to-day basis (1) has increased the pollutions around the city and also increased the level of congestion on the highways further making the city life more tasteless eventually deteriorating the sustainable urban form.
Alongside, the focus on the economic growth by the government and the increase in the government to promote the cities as the pivotal elements for their economic growth has actually shifted the focus from the sustainable development of the cities towards economic development resulting in a volatile urban set up that is prone to frequent changes and cannot accommodate the primary needs of the society which is the backbone for the very existence of the city.
It is also established by Mike Jenks et al (1) that the current city life is more focused upon the technological developments leaving behind the cultural importance for the city. For example the ‘Uneven Population Density and Sprawl’ and the ‘Functional Zoning’ mentioned by Hildebrand Frey (2) justify that the current city life is more focused upon the development with respect to the changes in the technology and the global business rather than focusing on the development from the cultural perspective which is essential for the sustained development of the city life. The arguments that the city life in the present situation is predominantly focusing on the material needs of the society without laying emphasis upon the rational and ethical elements that are specific to the given geographical location (1) (2) further makes the city life a unwise choice for the general public thus deteriorating the city of its residents.
2.2: Definition of Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is the most widely used term in this report and also in the analysis of urban form and environmental development. Thawed definition as mentioned by Mike Jenks (1) on sustainable development is “ a development which is capable of meeting today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”. This definition is exactly similar to the definition of the government towards sustainable development (3) that defines sustainable development as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
This makes it clear that the urban development should not only focus upon the development with respect to the growth in the technology and global markets but also incorporate the cultural and ethical factors that will provide room for the future generations to incorporate changes to meet their requirements. Also, it is clear that the focus on the technological development and a global perspective is necessary for achieving global position and economic development but still the emphasis on the development without compromising the ability for future development is essential and can be achieved only through embracing the urban development with the demographic and cultural factors with room for further development.
Furthermore, the argument by the “Sustainable development Unit “ of Government (3) that we are not even meeting the present needs on global basis is causing concern about the sustainable development of the city. This is because of the fact that the increase in the focus of the society to accommodate to the changes in the global and technological perspective leaving behind the primary ingredient of cultural and social elements which is the backbone for sustainable development in order to help the future generations to meet their needs.
Alongside, the argument of the sustainable Development Unit (3)that the increasing use of the resources and environmental systems like water, conventional sources of energy and other exhaustible natural resources cannot carry on forever since the rate at which they are replenished in the by nature is extremely lower to the rate at which the resources are consumed.
On the other hand the definition of the Forum for the future (4) on sustainable development “A dynamic process which enables all people to realise their potential and improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the Earth’s life support systems “lays more emphasis not only upon retaining the cultural and ethical factors but also upon the self development of the people in who live in the city in order to nurture the development right from the roots rather than the peripheral development of addressing the global and economic growth in the definition of the Government.
Furthermore, the phrase ‘to enhance Earth’s life support systems’ in the definition further justifies that the urban development is sustainable only when the emphasis is provided to preserving the natural resources.
The approach to Remaking Barnsley (5) “the 21st century Market Town “where the council is actually rethinking the entire Barnsley process in order to provide a sustainable world-class place for the future generations taking into account the cultural and social background of Barnsley is in line with the aforementioned definition of the Forum for the Future (4).
Furthermore, the arguments by Mike Jenks (1) and Hildebrand Frey (2)that a sustainable development is achievable only when the development of the urban areas reflect upon the global and economic growth embracing the primary element of preserving the natural resources as well as emphasising on the cultural factors of the geography. The examples on sustainable housing discussed in the text (1) (2) justify this argument.
This discussion in this chapter has revealed that the current city life is actually deteriorating the natural resources and prone to changes without accommodating the need for a balance in the environment in order to gain sustainable development. Also, from the definitions of sustainable development, it is clear that the development can be achieved only when the urban development embraces the need to preserve the natural resources as well as implement changes by emphasizing upon the development of the people in the city as well as the city itself rather than addressing the changes at the peripheral level. From the above discussion it is thus established that the sustainable development of the urban form can be achieved only through the effective integration of the socio-cultural factors with the global and economic growth without depleting the natural resources.
Chapter 3: Comparison the Policy Objectives
In this chapter a profound discussion on the policy objectives of teak government and the Forum for the Future is presented to the reader. This is then followed by the analysis of the differences in the policies and the strategies proposed by the bodies in order to identify their compatibility and the ability to measure the success. This chapter aims to familiarise the policies and objectives to the reader prior to the analysis in Part 2 of the report.
3.1: Policy Objectives
The objectives of the UK Government’s Sustainable development Unit for sustainable urban form (3) are
1. Social progress, which recognises the needs of everyone (i.e.) the needs apart from the essential needs of food clothing and water like locations for public gathering and cultural activities etc., This objective of the government was extensively deployed in the post war urban development in the 1950s and the 1960s as argued by Hildebrand Frey (2) who argues that the UK government’s strive to provide a higher quality of life with better community facilities. The development plan of 1951 (1) (2) that concentrated on providing the basic communal facilities and improving the quality of the houses through housing plans by the government were concentrated upon achieving the Social progress in the cities to meet the changes in the global world. Hildebrand Frey (2) argues that the government from the initial stages of urban development was concentrating upon the two-dimensional plan of the city and did not address the physical form of the city to accommodate the future changes. Also the fact that the development was concentrating on the rapid economic development and growth in the global market rather than emphasising on the socio-cultural factors has further depleted the sustainability of the urban form itself.
2. Effective protection of the environment: As mentioned in the previous chapter, the increase in the transportation especially the motorway commuters in the UK since the late twentieth century is causing very high levels of pollution that is eventually causing adverse effects on global warming making the weather hot with record-breaking temperatures which is not a healthy sign for sustainable urban form. Even though the objective of the government to protect the environment is novel, the existing set up of the urban for in the UK is causing adverse effects on the environment not only in the form of pollution of air but also upon the societal factors itself. The increase in the government’s tendency to respond to the global changes and economic growth without encompassing the people and the development of the people (1) (2) in the city is also a major cause for hindering the sustainable urban form.
3. Prudent use of natural resources: This objective of prudent use of the natural resources by the Sustainable development Unit (3) of Government mainly focuses on preserving the non-renewable sources of energy like the fossil fuels. The efficient use of water and prevention of the wastage of natural resources including water and energy also form the primary elements of this objective of the Sustainable development Unit.
4. Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment: This objective of the Sustainable development Unit mainly focuses upon the economic development of the city through the increased level of employment. It is worth noting that the arguments of (1) and(2) on the government’s focus upon urban development through addressing economic growth and global changes rather than development of the people in the city is justified in this objective. Even though the objective focuses on higher level of employment of the people, it does not focus upon the development of the society that forms the city.
The objectives of the Forum for the Future are discussed below
1. The preservation, conservation and protection of the environment and the prudent use of natural resources: This objective clearly emphasises upon the preservation of the natural resources as well as the prudent use of the resources. This statement not only emphasises upon the careful use of the natural resources but also upon the preservation of the existing resources explicitly. This is essential because of the fact that the initiative of the society to preserve the natural resources is the driving factor for the prudent use of the natural resources (4).
2. The relief of poverty and the improvement of the conditions of life in socially and economically disadvantaged communities. From this objective it is clear that the Forum for the Future is not only concentrating upon the development of the city areas but mainly upon the development of the people who form the city in order to achieve sustainable development. The example of the Remaking Barnsley (5) where the urban development of the city was approached with the idea of preserving the socio-cultural factors as well as nurturing the development of the people in the city instead of concentrating upon the development of the urban areas with respect to the global change and meet the economic growth.
3. The promotion of sustainable means of achieving economic growth and regeneration: This objective mainly suggests that the economic growth in the urban form can be sustained and achieved efficiently through achieving the above two objectives which will regenerate the walk of life of the people in the city eventually contributing to the economic growth.
3.2: Critical Analysis of the Policy objectives
The major difference between the government objectives and the objectives of the Forum for the Future is the fact that the government approach to the sustainable urban form is predominantly focusing upon the economic development without focusing upon the development of the of the people in the city. This major difference in the policy objectives is the primary factor for the hindrance to the sustainable urban form in the UK. Alongside, the argument of Mike Jenks (1) that the sustainable urban form is achievable only through the development of the people in the city which is essential for the continuous growth of the society that forms the city in order to effectively achieve the sustainable urban form.
Furthermore, the approach of the Forum for the Future in preserving the natural resources along with the prudent use of the resources emphasis more on the natural resources preservation and development from the basis of the city rather than the approach of the Sustainable development Unit of UK government to the prudent use of the natural resources without explicitly emphasising upon the preservation of the natural resources.
Even though the policy objectives of the Sustainable development Unit and the Forum for the Future are different it is appreciable that both the government body as well as the charity organization are striving towards the preservation of the environment.
The argument of Dr Bob Giddings (6) that the perception of the city centres as segregated areas of functional uses by the Sustainable development Unit is the major factor for the failure of the strategy to achieve sustainable development in the cities even though the policy objectives of the Sustainable development Unit strives to develop the urban areas in the UK as key elements for growth.
From the objectives of the UK government Sustainable development Unit, the strategy of the government is primarily to protect the environment and increase the economic level of the urban areas to achieve sustainable development. This strategy of achieving sustainable urban form is not completely successful as argued by Dr Bob Giddings (6)since the development does not embrace the cultural values of the geography or the development of the people in the city who are the backbone for the mere existence of the city (1) (2).
Even though the strategy does not focus upon the people development like its counterpart, the underlying idea of protecting the environment is easily measurable in this case since the prudent use of the natural resources for example can be accurately measured through the calculation of the use of energy resources by the general public and industries along with their classification and level of pollution. This ability to measure the strategy is the predominant factor for the implementation of the Sustainable development Unit in the UK urban form for sustainable development.
On the other hand from the objectives of the Forum for the Future we can see that the strategy embraces the development of the people in the society in order to contribute to the economic development which will provide sustainable urban form since the roots of the urban form (i.e.)the people development is the focus. The development of the people in the society will obviously create the awareness of protecting the environment and preserving the natural resources resulting in the prudent use.
Even though the above argument justifies that the emphasis on the people development is essential for the development of the urban for from the basis in order to achieve sustainable urban for, the ability to measure the actual development of the people in the society and their contribution to preserving the natural resources is difficult to measure and only the factors mentioned in the former case can be accurately measured. This measure does not always justify the requirement thus restricting the ability to accurately measure the results of the objectives of Forum for the Future.
Apart from the issues of measuring the results the inherent problem is the compatibility of the policies in the urban form in order to actually implement the strategy. Mike Jenks et al (1) argue that the practise of the urban form in many cities is not always the same as in theory and to achieve the strategy effectively is not always possible due to the inherent issue of the extent to which a specific policy incompatible to the given urban form.
From the above discussions it is clear that the government objectives of the urban form are more compatible to those of Forum for the Future mainly because of the lucid form of the objectives and the easy to implement nature. This further adds the credit to the policy objectives of Sustainable development Unit (3) against the policy objectives of is counterpart.
The discussion of the policy objectives of the government and the Forum for the Future has revealed that the sustainable urban form should preserve the environment and the natural resources. Also, the analysis on the policy objectives have revealed that the objectives are achievable only through the prudent use of the resources and the development of the people in the city than focusing only upon the economic development and addressing to global changes. Furthermore, the arguments on the compatibility and the analysis of the strategy have revealed that the Sustainable development Unit (3) of the UK government policy is more compatible than that of the Forum for the Future.
Part 2: The Compact City
Chapter 4: The Compact City
In this chapter, a discussion on the concept of the compact city is presented to the reader. The chapter commences with the definition of the compact city followed by the discussion on the various aspects associated with the compact city concept.
4.1: Definition of Compact City
Mike Jenks et al (1) define the compact city as “a freestanding urban settlement and defined as embracing one or all of three categories: high density, a mixed-use city and an intensified city”. This definition is obviously presented from an academic background and hence in the practical life the definition of the Compact city drills down to“ a city that has environmental and energy advantages and social benefits” (2), which emphasises on the preservation of the natural resources and emphasises on the development of the people.
From the above definition it is clear that in order to achieve the policy objectives discussed in the previous chapter a model of the Compact city will be helpful to achieve the goal of sustainable urban form.
Apart from the above argument, the compact city of the urban form as described by (1) (2) focus upon the idea of integrated development(i.e.) achieving development in all spheres of the social and personal life of the people in the city in order to gain sustainable urban form. The major advantages of establishing the compact city include the easy accessibility to facilities, reduced need for travel, health and social interaction as argued by Mike Jenks et al (1).
The highlights of the compact city as argued by (1) (2) are discussed here with examples from case studies and reports on urban development and sustainable urban form.
Intensification as mentioned by (2) in the light of a compact is mainly concerned with the increased usage of the existing landscape in the geographical area that constitutes the city judiciously. The above statement means not only the extensive use pdf the land for housing development but mainly to utilise the space to achieve self-sufficiency to a certain level. The concept of urban intensification as argued by Mike Jenks et al (7) (1) argue that the intensification in terms of the urban development and achieving sustainability is by implementing the intensification in terms of both the usage of the urban space and in terms of the activity levels. The two categories of the intensifications described by Mike Jenks et al (1) is mentioned below
Intensification of built form
In this category of urban form, the focus is on the development of the previously undeveloped locations of the city in order to maintain balance in the entire city (i.e.) a balance in the level of the growth and the social development of the people, which is discussed in chapter6. This also includes the development of the existing buildings in the city in order to intensify their use and increase the activity level of the people through the effective use of the buildings and sites in the city.
The case of the Barnsley development (5) where the recreation of the city as a twenty first century town is primarily focused upon establishing the town (i.e.) city centre of the urban form as the pivotal form for interaction with its surrounding villages, and other localities for intensifying the use of the urban space and interaction between the city with the surroundings in order to establish a balance in the urban form. The above statement makes it clear that the intensification of the built form in the compact city approach to the sustainable urban form is not only through the development of the city as an entity but through the intensification of the usage of the so developed space with the surroundings in order to increase the intensity of the urban development so as to gain sustainability.
Intensification of Activity
Katie Williams (8) argues that the intensification of the built form can be sustained in order to gain the sustainable urban form only through the intensification of the activity levels that contribute tithe intensification of the usage of the urban space thus increasing the interaction of the city with its surroundings. In the example of their making of the Barnsley (5) itself, the clear cut definition of each element of the entire urban form and the role of the entities so defined in the overall urban process makes it clear that only through intensifying the activity levels, the compact city initiative can be palpable to gain sustainable urban form.
Even though the above arguments support that the intensification of the urban space and activity in a compact city will increase the level of sustainability of the urban form, the argument by Dr Bob Giddings (6)that the urban intensification will not only increase the interaction but also increase the need for rapid development and quick response to changes which will uproot the basic conception of achieving development of the people and sustainable urban form which are the essential elements for the compact city.
The fact that the uncontrolled urban intensification will increase not only increase the interaction among the participants in the urban form but also affect the stability of the urban form because of the quick response of the participants to address economic changes and gain growth which will not only increase the use of natural resources but also increase the threat of social inequality. The arguments on acceptable urban intensification (1) justify the above arguments.
4.3: Mixed Use
The idea of mixed use in the compact city argued by Hildebrand Frey (2)focuses upon a more decentralised approach to the urban use as opposed the case of intensification where the compact city concept was primarily revolving around the town centre of the city making it a more centralised approach. In this approach, Hildebrand Frey (2) decentralised manner of organizing the urban form and encouraging the various participants of the urban form to interact not only as specific entities to the city but among themselves in order to achieve increased level of self-sufficiency.
The example of the Chinese cities with own farm belts in the cities in order to meet their agriculture requirements so as to be self-sufficient justifies the above argument. Alongside, one should understand the fact that the intensification of the urban form apparently loses the importance for preserving the natural resources and mainly for the prudent use of the resources in order to gain sustainable urban form. In the mixed approach the deployment of the farm strips in the city itself making city farming as a rural occupation not only increase the self-sufficiency level of the city in terms of food but also help in the preservation of natural resources mainly preventing soil erosion and increasing the rain fall thus preventing depletion of water in the city areas.
The above scenario not only stands for the establishment of specific strips of the urban space for farming but mainly to encourage the residents to involve in house farming by growing vegetables in their own gardens. The increase in the price of vegetables during the 1970s saw the increase in the house farming in the urban areas, which further strengthens the mixed approach to the compact city.
Even though the above arguments justify that urban farming will not only increase the self-sufficiency level but also reduce pollution and help preserve the natural resources, cities like London in the Cannot actually accommodate this approach mainly because of the tremendous increase in the industries and global businesses in the city. The arguments of Hildebrand Frey (2) that the city farming is becoming remote because of the very approach to the agriculture in itself.
The fact that agriculture itself is treated as an industry and the increase in the demand for quality products across the cities in the UK has truly isolated the farming and green wedges in the busy cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham in the UK. The Urban Regeneration assessment of Keynote Plc. (9) further argues that even though the actual presence of the city farming is obsolete in most of the cities by virtue of the development, the initiative of the city councils and the government to maintain the green strips either artificial or natural in the city areas will help reduce the pollution in the city atmosphere.
Apart from the farming element in the mixed approach to the compact city, the essential ingredient that increases the sustainability of the urban form in the mixed approach is that the interaction is not only in controlled manner but the activity levels of the people and there sources in the mixed form of the compact city are put to optimal use. The increase in the growth of the business parks surrounding the natural locations not only increases the interaction of the city but also mainly increases the sustainability and reduces the level of pollution due to the presence of the green wedges (either artificial or natural) in the city.
The above arguments on the mixed use in the context of the compact city still poses a question of whether it is achievable mainly because of the fact that the approach of either urban intensification or the mixed-use is pertained to the extent of the availability of resources and above all the involvement of the aut
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