Headlines: June 19th, 2003

Planners and policymakers are not up to date. They make outdated assumptions about the way people live and work, according to research funded by the Economic & Social Research Council.Planners in many countries are anxious to repopulate inner city areas on the assumption that local access to jobs, housing, shops and education will create a more sustainable environment. The researchers, from the University of Newcastle, found that people seldom live where they would choose in an ideal world and compromises are often made because parents want to be within reach of a “good” school.

Another factor is the general unwillingness for two income families to relocate. Instead, many choose to live in a mid-way hub location from which both careers may develop. Parents are far more likely to increase their daily traveling time to accommodate individual changes in schools, jobs or social activities than to consider moving house.

In Edinburgh and San Francisco, two of the cities surveyed, there is a daily cross-flow of traffic in which a heavy convoy of workers travel in from the suburbs to work in the city centre while many of those who live in the city commute to Silicon Valley or the science park in the suburbs. It was found that people don’t choose where to live because they want to harmonise jobs, housing and transport, rather they decide on a place of residence because it fits their lifestyle and family ideals. They continue to rely on private motorised transport and a treadmill of energy consuming practices.

Contact: Helen.Jarvis@ncl.ac.uk