Urban Update 8 February 2024

  • World breaches 1.5C one year warming limit + hottest January with +1.7C warming
  • Economic value of hot-day cooling provided by urban green and blue space
  • How waste generation changes with size of city 
  • Single family housing development in Cambridge
  • Greenspaces help to promote social cohesion
  • Parisians vote to triple SUV parking costs 


Built Environment 

A global review of urban blue-green planning tools - Land Use Policy
Australia: Great in Theory, but . . .: Planner’s Perceptions of Queensland’s Performance-Based System - Journal of Planning Education and Research
Performance-based planning (PBP), as opposed to Euclidian zoning, is defined as “an approach to regulatory planning that aims to achieve strategic objectives without mandating how those objectives are achieved”, used in Australia for more than twenty years.
This paper surveys planners’ views of this system and stages of reform.
The paper presents the system as having become more discretionary over time in order to increase efficiency, seeming to result in prioritising economic development over social or environmental objectives.  Nevertheless, criticisms continue to centre on:

  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity
  • Legal Challenge

The paper argues that “successful Performance Based Planning requires a context with high levels of institutional trust and a regulatory system that does not commonly result in large personal gains on the basis of planning decisions” and “must clearly reflect the “collective values and ideas” that make up the public interest in planning”.

Humans, Health, Society

Cycling and non-aggressive driving in urban areas: What are the factors enabling them and how environment-friendly behaviour underpins their relationship? - Journal of Transport & Health
This paper surveys drivers in Thessaloniki, Greece, finding a “direct connection between the absence of prejudice against cyclists and drivers choosing to cycle or drive non-aggressively”.  The paper therefore suggests that “Pro-cycling policy and infrastructure interventions, but also bike campaigns and educational activities designed to battle negative attitudes towards bikes and cyclists may increase the uptake of cycling and inspire efforts to establish urban landscapes that nurture the harmonious coexistence between car drivers and cyclists”.
Growth in use of wood-burning stoves cancelling fall in particulate pollution from road vehicles >>>>

Natural Environment 

UN Report finds that half of migratory animal species are in decline – many face extinction >>>>


Politics, Philosophy, Economics

A £300m planning application 249 times the length of War and Peace? Meet the man delivering the £9bn Lower Thames Crossing >>>>
House prices in the Home Counties commuter belt slashed as buyers boomerang back to London >>>>


England : Planning Consultations

Policy for Brownfield development  >>>>

  • change to national planning policy ....that authorities “should give significant weight to the benefits of delivering as many homes as possible and take a flexible approach in applying planning policies or guidance relating to daylight and sunlight and  internal layouts of development, where they would otherwise inhibit making the most efficient use of a site(as long as the resulting scheme would provide acceptable living standards).”
  • the application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development in respect of previously developed land only for those 20  towns and cities subject to the urban uplift (in the Levelling up and Regeneration Act), where their Housing Delivery Test score falls to 95% or below.

Changes to Permitted Development Rights >>>>

  • Increasing the depth of rear extensions by 1 metre
  • Wrap around extensions
  • Two story extensions
  • Conversion of the full available roof volume
  • Development of more than 50 percent of the area of a residential curtilage
  • Bin and bike stores in front gardens 2 metres in width, 1 metre in depth and 1.5 metres in height.  Including in conservation areas
  • Upward extensions rights conferred to buildings built before 1 July 1948
  • Addition of two additional stories on a block of flats up to an overall 30 metres in height – questioning whether there are adequate protections for existing leashold
  • Electric vehicle charging points,
  • Microgeneration / Heat pumps

The Future Homes and Buildings Standards consultation closes on 6 March >>>>


Mobility justice or transit boosterism? The use of rail transit as an urban transformation strategy in Kitchener, Canada, and Malmö, Sweden - Mobilities
This paper argues that investments in new rail and other forms of transit often prioritise considerations of economic or property development over social impact, local needs, and access.

It argues that the focus in the case studies examined was “creating symbolic values, improving image and attraction, and satisfying the travel demand of the new residents and businesses that the investment intended to attract”.
The paper also notes the social implications of prioritising rail over bus-based transit.
4000 signature petition against Bath's Liveable Neighbourhood trials >>>>
Ban on pavement parking ‘should be rolled out across England’ - Independent
Mapping urban mobility using vehicle telematics to understand driving behaviour - Scientific Reports
The Traffic Calming Effect of Delineated Bicycle Lanes - Journal of Urban Mobility


Energy and Climate Change

Potential for shutdown Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and dramatic impact on Europe climate     New Scientist   Full paper
The most detailed computer simulation to date indicates that freshwater from melting ice sheets may disrupt the crucial ocean current responsible for warming Europe.   However, the degree of likelihood regarding this occurrence remains uncertain.
Environment Agency objects to Southampton town quay development proposal owing to flood risk from the sea >>>>

Read about the 3-4 metre storm surge that swamped a section of the south coast of England in 1824 >>>>
“Twern’t a sea – not a bit of it – twer the great sea hisself rose up level like and come on right over the ridge and all, like nothing in this world”

A spatiotemporal framework for the joint risk assessments of urban flood and urban heat island - International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Communities creating climate solutions for a healthy planet and healthy people - npj Climate Action
This study examines the efforts to tackle climate change at a local level with community-led initiatives such as ‘ecovillages’, and the benefits these can have for the health of their residents.