Centre for Cities' report "City Space Race: Balancing the need for homes and offices in our cities" captures the essence of competing dynamics in our city centres. Solutions lie in sophisticated, collaborative responses that recognise the different patterns of use in different cities, and an appreciation that not all green belt is equal. Variable situations require flexible approaches.

 

The report provides rich material for discussion between all parties involved in city centre development, to encourage both economic sustainability and the additional housing that the UK requires. There are difficult conversations to be had, that will challenge strongly held positions. Our countryside is a precious commodity and it is right to uphold the principle of protection that green belt offers. In reality, though, the quality of greenbelt is inconsistent and carefully selected areas could be given over to development.

 

Each city has its own particular set of challenges and the most effective solutions are likely to be devised by those who have the greatest knowledge of specific conditions.  Devolution is an important part of the response, when local bodies can shape the local environment and the Metro Mayors can work across involved authorities. The route ahead requires engagement and collaboration to get an appropriately nuanced response. It also requires up to date, local plans that help inform long-term decisions.