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Small world

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Suburbs have also represented a problem for architects and planners, and indeed critics, because although relatively low density, people seem to like them and also like using their cars.

Oh dear! Relief may be at hand, if a study by Sheppard Robson gathers momentum. Its suggestion about dealing with the housing problem in London and the South East is to create 'suburban capitals' from existing commuter-belt towns, inviting them to expand their role and character to relieve pressure on the centre without wrecking the countryside. The practice has taken nine towns which could form the core of such an approach, with a detailed case study undertaken of Harlow. The practice thinks that this could result in shorter average commuter times, more in line with the European average for established centres.

It thinks Harlow should intensify, rather than creating 11 new satellite neighbourhoods all reliant on car transport. This is good stuff which should feed into government thinking - if there is to be thinking rather than dogma.

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