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"Growing Historic Cities" - exploring the issues around urban expansion.   
16 September 2016 | Posted by Sophie Hetherington

On September 12, Jo and Sophie attended a symposium led by the Historic Towns Forum. This addressed how the pressures on historic cities necessitate a new approach to developing urban networks.

Lectures were varied, from explorations of growth in Freiburg and Grenoble, to the viability of Garden Cities as a model for future urban expansion. Each talk was followed by a lively Q&A session, which fostered a productive dialogue between speakers and the audience.

Danny Dorling gave a keynote speech on the necessity of planning infrastructure around bicycles, in order to encourage the adoption of a sustainable transport system. This also stimulated discussion, and it was interesting to diverge from a car- based approach to town planning.

Workshops were run in the afternoon, with delegates from a range of planning and heritage backgrounds addressing core issues such as design, quality and economy. The workshops concluded that clarity in planning for urban growth is essential to achieving sustainable and higher-quality urban design.

Local authorities need to make coherent, long-term strategies for transport in tandem with clear and well-researched development plans which were site- and community-specific. This enables development to include economic growth, informed by an awareness of the local knowledge economy and skill sets or deficits.

It was also noted that green spaces were vital to successful development: it was debated whether taking a more flexible, purpose-led approach to Green Belt designation could open opportunities for development which are site specific. With no consensus on the matter, this may be a debate for another day...!