What might a suburban renaissance look like?

Paul Smith CROP

A move away from city centres could have profound consequences for the future of urban development

The suburbs were the most successful urban form of the twentieth century. Supported by the rise of the motorcar, they provided pleasant homes with gardens for increasing numbers of families. Yet as the century reached its end, “suburban” became almost derogatory. The suburbs were seen as dull, conformist and faintly ridiculous - a land of uPVC and pebble dash populated by Hyacinth Buckets pruning their roses. They were neither one thing nor the other - missing out on both the buzz of the city and the tranquillity of the countryside.

Instead, housing was all about the urban renaissance. Jobs - and therefore workers - flowed into city centres. A consequence of that trend was the hollowing out of suburban high streets, with charity shops and empty units proliferating.

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