Mill Hill East Transport (before the bean counters cut it all)


Monday, 6 February 2012

'State of the Suburbs'

"More than 80 per cent of us live in areas that can be classified as suburban and yet ‘suburbs’ have played a secondary role in regeneration and urban policy. In this publication, we have deliberately set out to contend that ‘city-suburbs’ – to give them a label that more accurately reflects their economic, social and environmental impact today – are an organic and correlative part of inner urban centres and the vitality of the city-region.

As such, the suburban agenda needs to be defined clearly by those that lead suburban boroughs, their city-region counterparts, their city-region partners and central government policy makers. The London Borough of Barnet – itself a suburb - together with the Leadership Centre for Local Government and partners the New Local Government Network and the Academy for Sustainable Communities have commissioned this publication – an analysis of our suburbs today – in order to start the debate."
Leo Boland, London Borough of Barnet, chief executive
(yes. this is a pre-credit crunch report)

Link to 'State of the Suburbs'

"Government policies for sustainable development and, crucially, for sustainable communities, could be seriously compromised if the role of suburbs continues to be overlooked. As Richard Rogers argues:  
“Urban renaissance needs to spread out beyond our city centres…Architects and planners have often neglected, or even derided, suburbs,” (R Rogers, 2006).
"An attitudinal shift was needed to promote an urban renaissance: away from regarding cities as problem areas to be avoided, and towards viewing them as vital engines for a sustainable society and economy. Similarly, we need a cultural shift away from regarding suburbs as isolated and self-sufficient entities. Instead, we should see them as organic extensions of the urban system, deserving as much attention as their inner urban centres. ...

"... We highlight some of the key features of a suburban quality of life, exploring the common perception that suburbs offer a better quality of life and hold many inherent advantages over inner urban areas, therefore not meriting special attention. Our analysis shows that, while the story is mixed, suburbs do provide a range of quality of life assets, including:
  • Healthier lifestyles
  • Lower crime rates
  • Good and accessible local services/amenities
  • Decent although unaffordable housing
  • Good transport and connectivity

Barnet 'Spider Chart'
(click to enlarge)

Case study: Barnet

"Barnet is a north London borough that closely identifies with its city-suburb profile. In fact, its sustainable community strategy and long-term vision (2006) is entitled 'Barnet: a first class suburb' and is a strategy that reflects the relationship it has with the capital and the issues that can arise out of an area in demand by inner-London professionals.

"For a London borough, Barnet offers a relatively good quality of life, with long life expectancy alongside a high level of connectivity and good amenities.

"One of the downsides is the high level of out-commuting, as many of the borough’s residents travel daily to their highly paid jobs in central London.

"Barnet is typical of many suburbs, where a high proportion of professionals commute out each day to work. This is made possible by a relatively efficient transport system and generally good connectivity. However, many commuters also use their cars and, consequently, we see above average levels of traffic congestion.

"Commuters also experience long travel-to-work times – in Barnet’s case, amongst the longest in the country. Preserving a high quality of life offer, while dealing with the impact of commuting – both for families and the environment – is one of the biggest challenges for ensuring sustainable suburban community strategies."


The future of suburbs

"More than eight in 10 people in England live in areas classified as suburban. Their future should be of as much concern to policy makers as it is to the businesses that operate in the suburbs and the communities that live in them. 

"We believe a shift of emphasis is required in urban policy, ensuring more priority is given to the suburban agenda. This will require a change in the conception that suburbs have a one-way dependency on their urban centres. Our analysis suggests a much greater interdependence, with the city and its suburbs each contributing in different ways to the economic vitality of the city-region. 

"Pushing suburbs up the political and policy agenda is timely in a number of ways. The city-centric approach to urban renewal has led to significant investment and some major improvements in town and city centres. However, in many cases, a step outside specific regeneration projects still reveals many urban problems. 

"Suburbs can play a part in achieving a more holistic approach to urban regeneration. Wider partnership-working, to include suburban policy, may help to encourage a more integrated and coherent approach to the future of city-regions."

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