Growing cities and building resilience: Land-use

Numerous UK cities outstrip countries world-wide in population size and economic strength. In these increasingly densely populated centres, is it possible to balance economic growth with sustainable, resilient environments and infrastructure for citizens?

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In increasingly densely populated areas available land is at a premium, and even brownfield sites – which can be notoriously expensive to remediate - become attractive to developers. And public policy is increasingly incentivising the use of ‘brownfield first’ for new development.

In these situations public land, green spaces and the greenbelt can come under pressure. Effective land-use regulations are required to ensure a sustainable balance between the housing and amenities our growing populations require, and the open, green spaces residents want.

Intensive urban development also has implications for water and waste water systems (along with other utilities) and natural drainage, increasing the risk of flooding. This is increasingly important in the context of changing weather patterns.

Effective land-use regulations are required to ensure a sustainable balance between the housing and amenities our growing populations require, and the open, green spaces residents want.

Cities around the world are looking at novel models for addressing these issues – such as vertical and roof gardens and blue-green infrastructure – which may play a role in the UK’s cities in the future.


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What are the challenges?

Our Urbanisation green paper identified a number of key questions that must be resolved in order to allow our cities to make best use of the land available.

  • How do we balance demands for space for housing with residents’ desire for access to green space? Blue-green city models aim to restore natural water cycles and‘ re-green’ the urban environment, but what are the barriers to greater uptake in UK cities?
  • Is it already too late for big cities to create the environments that people want, beyond the physical infrastructure they need?
  • Is it possible to balance sustainable environments, with a sustainable economy and a sustainable society? And one that is resilient to future change?

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Land-use knowledge from ICE

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What do the experts think?

To stimulate debate on these questions, ICE has canvassed a range of built environment experts and curated a number of resources to help inform your thinking. To find out more about these opinions, simply click on a resource below.

It is vital that we receive your input, and this will be used to shape our future outputs and ICE's answers to these challenges.

Join the debate

Do you agree with the experts? What are your priorities for addressing urban land-use and environment challenges? Or do you have a good case study you want to highlight? Let us know in the comments section below!

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