In the UK Government forecasters expect the population to increase to almost 80 million by 2051, and possibly over 90 million by 2081, as a result of rising birth rate and longer living.
15 to 25+ million people in addition to those already affected by the housing shortage will have to be accommodated somewhere. It is essential to plan on a long timescale and to look 35 to 65 years ahead.
The UN states, 'The climate change debate and action often focuses on energy and industrial activity as the key sectors contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. However, the transport sector, which is responsible for one quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, with its emissions increasing at a faster rate than any other sectors, must be included in any effective policy response to climate change. Sustainable transport must be viewed and integrated as an essential ingredient in sustainable development strategies. Transport infrastructure lasts for decades, which means that the decisions which local and national governments make today will have long lasting impacts on urban development and form, as well as climate.' The UK Government Committee on Climate Change reports, 'Transport greenhouse gas emissions continue to be the largest emitting sector, (and) emissions are rising.'
The first of the many sustainability criteria for new homes and workplaces must be permanent way public transport. The occupants of even the most efficient buildings will consume unacceptable amounts of energy and greatly increase traffic congestion if they have to use private cars for everyday journeys. Their housing and workplaces must be in locations connected by excellent and attractive rail services.
New infrastructure costs billions and takes years to build, so it is essential to make full use of the existing network to provide the spines to serve the necessary growth, and to concentrate large-scale development within walking distance of rail stations - either existing or new.
Only after the transport conditions have been satisfied should the other sustainability criteria such as economics, energy, water, waste, food, biodiversity, etcetera be investigated to find suitable locations for truly sustainable development.
ConnectedCities offers a methodology for the process based upon the proven success of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities, and his vision for groups of towns combining to create Social Cities.