Study extols virtues of design coding

A joint report by URBED and Savills, published by the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) last week, argues that suburban areas have been neglected compared to towns and cities. Key concerns include poorly-designed development, greater car reliance, a decline in local shopping centres and a lack of community services and infrastructure. SEERA hopes to tackle these problems through its suburban management policies in the draft South East Plan. The report advises councils to be more proactive in planning for suburban areas by creating area action plans, design guides and development briefs. It calls for greater support for neighbourhood management schemes to improve service provision and for more local funding streams to be identified. Suburban centres can be created by developing mixed-use schemes or expanding industrial estates, the report adds. It highlights a range of suburban areas that could be made more sustainable through better planning. SEERA director of planning and transport Mike Gwilliam said that action at local level could help transform suburban areas. "Local authorities are classically placed to develop the suburbs. Small changes can be made but given how many suburbs there are these can add up to a lot." A growing consortium of local authorities is working to improve suburbs across England in the Insuburbia partnership, added Gwilliam. However, he warned: "The government has still got to say something about this to help create better suburbs." Neighbourhood Revival can be viewed via www.PlanningResource.co.uk. Design coding can fast track developments through the planning process, the government's architecture watchdog said at the sustainable communities summit in Manchester last week.

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