William Eichler 18 August 2020

MPs call for evidence to support ‘suburban renaissance’

The cross-party Suburban Taskforce has today launched a public ‘Call for Evidence’ to help chart a course towards what it describes as a ‘suburban renaissance’ across the country.

The taskforce draws politicians from both Houses of Parliament to review evidence of the state of Britain’s suburbs and then make recommendations to the Government on policy initiatives to enhance them.

Announced in March 2020 and co-chaired by Dr Rupa Huq MP and David Simmons MP, the cross-party body aims to support the long-term sustainability of suburban areas.

According to the ‘Call for Evidence’, the taskforce ‘seeks to clarify the circumstances facing our suburbs and to understand the implications this has for the way in which we plan for their future. The intention is that this will inform recommendations as to policy initiatives which will contribute to the creation of suburbs which are thriving, sustainable and inclusive.’

During its first phase, the taskforce will focus on how the social, economic and environmental circumstances in London impact the capital’s suburbs. It will then seek to identify national trends.

Supported by UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning, the All Party Parliamentary Group for London’s Planning and Built Environment, and an expert Advisory Board, the taskforce will also consider the policy tools available for shaping the suburbs.

Commenting on the launch of the taskforce’s ‘Call for Evidence’, Dr Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central & Acton, said: ‘Our Suburbs are the home of the majority of our population and at risk of being overlooked and neglected. It is net curtains for representatives who ignore the plight of suburbia; the majority of those in parliament represent precisely such constituencies.

‘The traditional vision of the Suburbs as an ideal balance between town and country is being challenged conceptually, visually and operationally. Suburbs have been considered unproblematic and left by themselves under the pressures of austerity and are now facing the problems of inequality and underfunding whilst still being under pressure to expand or intensify.

‘This taskforce draws those from all political backgrounds to focus on the suburbs, seeking to understand what “suburban” really means in modern Britain. Now, as we emerge from a pandemic which may well redefine our relationship to the places in which we live, work and play is the right time for that.’

Chair of the Advisory Board and head of planning and development at Rockwell, Jonathan Manns, added: ‘The recent pandemic has reminded us of the importance of our suburbs and the taskforce is a key step towards giving these areas the attention they deserve to ensure they are sustained and enhanced in the future.

‘I wish to encourage those from all backgrounds, whether individuals or organisations, whatever their experiences or expertise, to actively support this important work and respond to this “Call for Evidence”. The more data and perspectives received, the more effective the Taskforce can be in considering the issues and opportunities facing these crucial parts of our towns and cities.’

Academic advisor, UCL’s Dr Lucy Natarajan, commented: ‘The purpose of this consultation is to hear from suburban areas about the challenges and opportunities facing them. This is vitally important to the taskforce, in order to work towards a shared understanding of the unique situations facing suburbs in the UK today and what th

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