Allan Cochrane, The Open University
Bob Colenutt and Martin Field, The University of
Paper presented to ISA RC21 Conference, Berlin,
September 2013
 Urbanists have struggled to engage
with the suburbs over many years
 For Gans (in 1968) the point was
already (counter to Wirth) to argue
that suburbanism was a way of life
 For others, like Jacobs and her
more contemporary followers
suburbs were simply a means of
avoiding the intensity of city life
 From Chicago to (Southern)
California – claims that cities no
longer spread out from (and draw
in to) the centre (Dear).
 And from a European perspective,
the identification of the
Zwischenstadt (Sieverts)
 Moving beyond the megacity to
new forms of urbanisation – the
future city explored (Simone)
 Worrying about city regions –
mega region, super-region –
but…beyond the metropolis (8m)
 Defined in relational terms (Allen
et al)
 Activity space stretches across a
huge area of England (Gordon)
 Over half the population of
England included in some versions
 Polycentric city region (Hall and
 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
 Containment of urban England
(Hall et al), 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
 21st century new urbanism and the
drive for sustainable communities
beyond the metropolis
 Explicit state strategy in first
decade of 21st century focused on
housing growth to underpin
economic growth (housing as
 Growth regions identified (our research
focused on one of these)
 Housing targets set
 Sustainable urban extensions
 BUT then
 Revenge of the suburbanites
(and…banking crisis)
 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
 From sustainability to viability (removing
perceived constraints of the planning
 Still effectively London dominated
– i.e. to rework Dear, ‘the
imperative towards
decentralization…has not (yet)
become the principle dynamic in
this contemporary city’
 Suburbs no longer just an
afterthought, but an integral part
of contemporary urbanism