10 September 2012
Thirteen years ago I chaired the government’s Urban Task Force, which was asked to advise on how to build 4m dwellings in England to tackle its long-standing housing shortage.
One of our recommendations was that previously developed “brownfield” land could accommodate the vast majority of new housing needed. That, we argued, would allow us to protect the countryside, build homes in a more sustainable way and strengthen and revitalise existing towns and cities, rather than allowing them to spill into sprawl.
Sprawl fails us on every count. The soulless tracts of bland development cannot maintain the vitality and intensity of use needed to support transport infrastructure, local shops or community cohesion. It drains the lifeblood from city centres and undermines energy efficient lifestyles.
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This article appeared in the Financial Times, 10 September 2012