Allan Cochrane, The Open University
Bob Colenutt and Martin Field, The University of
Presentation to CRESC conference, SOAS London,
September 2013
 For much of the period since 1945
(and in accelerated form after
1979) it has been taken for granted
that home ownership has been the
route to security – delivering
invulnerability (or at least reducing
invulnerability) through bricks and
 The suburbs have been invented as
places of safety away from the
threats and challenges of the
(cosmopolitan) city, as protected
spaces of family houses, gardens
and steadily rising property values
 Suburbs as monocultural – also an
escape from dynamism, creativity,
diversity (Jacobs)
 Popular representations of life in
England’s ‘home counties’ well into
the 1960s are quintessentially
 Men in pin stripe suits and bowlers
travelling up to the city or
Whitehall to work
 Women at home, maintaining the
domestic sphere
 Containment of urban England
(Hall et al) – making up the green
 Defending South Bucks
(Charlesworth and Cochrane)
 1990s attempt to construct forms
of suburb that drew on images of
rurality in the South East,
apparently to escape from urban
sprawl into the protected space of
the countryside (Murdoch and
Marsden 1994 and Marsden et al
 Imagined as having secondary
status – housing for those working
in the city (Chicago School and its
 21st century new urbanism and the
drive for sustainable communities
beyond the metropolis (Duany)
 California model (Dear)
 Zwischenstadt (Sieverts)
 No longer quite so secure; no
longer quite so protected
 Living with multiculture – no
longer (so) monocultural –
evidence from the Census
 The case of Milton Keynes
 And, equally important, play
central role in the way in which
social and economic relations are
experienced and even driven
 In early years of this century,
London’s suburbs were at the core
of wider plans, expressed through
language of sustainable
communities – sustainable urban
extensions. Housing to maintain
economic growth
 Some aspects of the suburban (or
exurban) dream had to be reimagined in this context, as new
development was interpreted in
ambivalent terms – threat or
 Translated into the language of
‘infrastructure’ “We were dubbed
as anti-housing but we were never
anti-housing. Infrastructure should
be planned around the housing not
after it”
 The 2008 crisis in the housing
market was just one expression of
the wider financial crisis - not only
were plans for new house building
put on hold, but in most parts of
the country – outside London house prices fell
 In this context policy shifted, too
towards an emphasis on viability
 “When you are planning a new
town you must have massive
infrastructure. Planners say they
will get this from roof tax and
section 106 but if they can’t get
developers to hand over their
money that’s it.”
 Still at the imaginative core of
public policy – housing growth on
the edge of the South East
 Centre for Cities
 City Deals – the case of Milton Keynes
 No longer protected spaces: the
search for invulnerability has
helped to create new
vulnerabilities as they have ceased
to be marginal or secondary spaces