Friday, 30 November 2012

Greenfield development is bad for the economy?


The rhetoric talks about using housing development as a trigger for economic growth - all that spending on architects, builders, plumbers and estate agents acts as a stimulus. And this means we have - as Nick Boles observed the other day - to stop being quite so BANANAs about 'green belts' and England's open countryside.

Short-term this might be true. In terms of equity it certainly is true. But when it comes to longer term prosperity there's a doubt. Here Richard Florida writing about dense cities:

Density is a key factor in both the growth of cities, the happiness of cities, and the wealth of nations. And cities and regions where density is more concentrated near their urban cores — appear to gain the biggest economic advantage.

Check that out - it means that, rather than building on the edge of cities, extended the suburbs and developing exurbs (even with super-fast trains), we should be focusing on the urban core, on city living, on dense urban environments because these are where innovation happens, where creativity springs and where economic growth begins.

It's a thought.


1 comment:

Frances Coppola said...

Umm, I never noticed much in the way of creativity or economic growth in the high-density London housing estates where I worked .....Admittedly that was a long time ago, but I doubt if much has changed. As far as I know they are still drug and crime-filled ghettos with a high proportion of people on benefits. So it depends what you mean by "city living", doesn't it? I suspect Florida is envisaging wealthy city types and artistic Bohemians cosily living and working together. But the reality of high-density living can be very different from that.