'Build better together' - who are we planning for?

PH Vision master-plan CGI from KCAP Architects (Patrick Henry Village, Heidelberg, Germany - managed by the Internationale Bauausstellung Heidelberg GmBH

We are delighted to bring you this week a guest blog on the need for better planning by Simon Payne, Director of Lambsquay Consulting of Cambridge and former Director of Environment at Cambridge City Council

We are now in the age of three word slogans. ‘Build Back Better’. ‘Hands Face Space’. ‘Check Change Go’. Our complex changing, sometimes threatening world compressed into a short simple instruction. But what is ‘Better’ and where should we go? These questions surely need to be answered by those we are building for.

I started my town planning career in the city of Birmingham in the mid 1970s at the tail end of a comprehensive redevelopment programme that provided for the rehousing of hundreds of thousands of people over three decades. There was no doubt that demolishing unfit housing for modern housing apartments amounted to ‘building back better’. The information films of the time featured men in white coats proudly pointing at great plans describing the wonderful new places. But sadly in time it became clear that these wonderful visions broke up established communities and imposed a way of life that many found isolating and unwelcoming.