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Does Intensifying Cities Make them More Sustainable?

Introduction The arguments relating compact urban form and sustainability are well rehearsed (Jenks et al., 1996; CEC 1990; Breheny, 1992). The compact city is said to be beneficial for environmental, social and economic sustainability. Consequently, in the UK, urban intensification (see note 1) as a means of achieving higher densities, is now advocated in numerous land use planning policy and guidance documents (Williams, 1999). For example, there is now a national target for brownfield development, with 60% of all new development destined for re-used land in urban areas (DETR, 1998). Transport and housing policy guidance also strongly advocate intensifying development (DoE and DoT, 1994; DoE, 1992a), and new draft planning policy guidance on housing (DETR, 1999) suggests minimum housing densities should be set in urban areas. However, many of the arguments underpinning these policies are derived from assertion and theory (Jenks, this volume; Williams, 1998). Very little monitoring, if any, has been done of places which have been through a process of intensification to observe its effects.