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  • Matthew Locke

Climate change, housing and place-making


Our January 2019 forum 'Healthy Cities' looked at the important topic of climate risk and house building along with place-making.

Bringing nature back into the city - in particular the Bloomsbury campus - is a current aim for the Director of Sustainability at University College London, Richard Jackson. At our recent 'Healthy Cities' forum he said:

'Climate change adaptation is focused on several areas of campus life and these include amenity, plans for growing and for increasing active travel. We need collaboration between ourselves, the GLA and Camden Council to improve traffic flow through Bloomsbury, to cut down congestion and pollution. We are taking a logistics approach to our deliveries. With two-hundred and fifty separate deliveries of stationery a week, we need to get it down to just five! Universities can be very conservative environments. We see the role of the sustainability team as challenging the way the university thinks.' See Richard talking in the video clip above.

Viktor Roezer of the London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute raised the question about how we combat potential heat stress and flooding affecting houses which we build now and which might not be habitable in twenty years.

Head of Savills' Urban Design Studio in Oxford, Andrew Raven, who is working on several mixed development schemes for Oxford colleges, commented:

'Some builders will do the minimum while others will look to put in sustainable drainage systems which can double as children's play areas. On the macro scale there's not much governing where development takes place - in reality it is influenced by political decisions determining where each development is built. Often strategic infrastructure won't go in because time-scales are too short, with piece-meal delivery and then there is no money available to pay for a by-pass, for instance, to ease traffic congestion around housing.'

Patrick Allcorn, Head of Local Energy at the BEIS, asked how realistic Manchester's current strategy is to build all homes at net zero from 2028 in order to meet the Paris Agreement?

Bexley Co's Huw Lewis responded: 'I think it's unrealistic although it's.great aspiration. In the context of London and Bexley we have an acute shortage of housing, so we have to plan the houses first and then look at how we finesse this, with regard to climate change impacts such as flooding. Manchester has large swathes of green belt that it can use, but London does not. Flooding is a key risk for Bexley being next to the river, and to develop infrastructure there you have to be innovative and creative. You need a balanced approach when you are building homes'.

Richard Jackson concluded that climate change adaptation needs to be dealt with it at scale, at both a government and borough level:

'There is some very interesting software available now, guiding what the impacts are and how you adapt an area...it's about putting in the right trees and the right drainage systems. This was done very well on the Olympic Park project on ground re-modelling to take 4,000 homes in Canning Town out of the one in 100 years flood risk category'.


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