Sustainable cities for the future outlined at Aston lecture

Prof. Marcial Echenique
Prof. Marcial Echenique

21st October, 2009

An international expert in urban planning outlined his vision for sustainable cities of the future, at Aston University.

Professor Marcial Echenique lecture, focused on SOLUTIONS (Sustainability of Land Use Transport in Outer Neighbourhoods), a four year study assessing how new housing suburbs should be integrated into cities.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC)-funded project involved an interdisciplinary team from five universities (University of Cambridge, Aberystwyth, Exeter, Leeds, Newcastle & Surrey) and focused on four major cities: London, Newcastle, Bristol and Cambridge.

All areas studied are experiencing high growth pressures in their suburbs, with the report assessing how new growth areas can be planned to be socially inclusive, environmentally sustainable and economically efficient.

England’s population currently stands at 50 million and is projected to rise to 60 million by 2031. Echenique posed the question of how this increase will be accommodated and with least cost to the economy and the environment.

He argued that today’s urban policies are proving to be restrictive in developing sustainable cities, with Brownfield sites offering limited choices in lifestyle and housing location. Similarly a lack of investment in highway infrastructure and people increasingly working further from home, were other sustainability problems.

Echenique explored potential problems the UK may face if they continue with current policies. Thes include:

  • Substantial increase of crowding in Greater London – smaller homes, fewer houses and more flats.
  • The South East faceing a potential 14% increase in living costs and 26% increase in the cost of housing due to an insufficient supply of new dwellings and transport congestion.
  • Substantial growth in fuel consumption due to increased travel distance and traffic congestion.
  • CO2 emissions potentially increasing by 34% in the South East and 11% in the North East.

The research project formed the Barker and Eddington proposals which aim to help solve current sustainability issues. One proposal raised includes the introduction of further road user charges to help lessen congestion, and reduce fuel consumption and CO2 levels.

Echenique concluded his research by looking to 2031 and predicting a large disparity between dwelling location and employment location. He explored the idea of a future ‘Eco-town’ where the materials are renewable, the water is recycled and grey and the power is wind & solar powered.


 For further information, please contact Munira Jasat on (0121) 204 4547.