Urban compaction has become a policy direction which has been followed in a number of European countries throughout the 1990s. Although this policy direction may have both theoretical and political appeal, there is concern over the likelihood of being able to concentrate the majority of future development within existing urban areas. Most analysis would suggest that urban decentralisation is set to continue. Reversing these established patterns, as well as past policies which have encouraged dispersal, is likely to be a tall order. The aim of this article is to provide a closer examination of a particular city-region to assess whether national policy, which promotes compact cities, is feasible at the local level. The Cambridge subregion, within the UK, has been chosen as it has a tradition of policies which have encouraged dispersal and are in direct contrast to Government's new policy direction. Past spatial planning policies within the sub-region have left a legacy of dispersed settlement patterns, separating homes from workplace and encouraging inward commuting into Cambridge. The effects of this past policy stance are so ingrained that it will be hard to reverse such trends and accommodate additional development, particularly housing, within Cambridge's existing boundaries.
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Nicola Morrison (Dr) is research associate and affiliated lecturer in the Property Research Unit, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge. Her research interests are focused on housing and land use planning issues within the UK context.
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Morrison, N. The compact city: Theory versus practice—The case of Cambridge. Neth J of Housing and the Built Environment 13, 157–179 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02497227