Hertfordshire as urban lab
The future of our cities is currently being studied by students in the academic area of urbanism at the University of Hertfordshire. A variety of short courses and degrees are available including the MSc in Sustainable Planning.
Dr Susan Parham, Head of Urbanism at the Centre for Sustainable Communities at the university and also Academic Director of the new International Garden Cities Institute at Letchworth, joined our March forum at the IET in London and contributed to the housing crisis debate,
She described how important it is to look at who benefits from land value capture - where property values increase on the back of public infrastructure investment:
'Letchworth Garden City is really the only example where the proceeds of land value capture go back into the town. Why can't we re-look at this philosophy as so many cities and councils in the UK are unable to benefit directly from land value capture?' Susan was also clear on the question of new build versus the retro fitting of dysfunctional 'places' - we should do both she commented. She said 'we should look at opportunities at every level: hamlets, villages, new garden villages, established garden cities, suburbs and towns -as all can contribute to solving the housing crisis'.
The University of Hertfordshire she pointed out, is well placed to contribute to 'urban lab experiments' as the county has every type of settlement in it.