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UIC - Newcastle - Urban Sprawl

Environmental Challenges Facing Newcastle:
CHALLENGE 4 – Counter urbanisation and Urban Sprawl

Key words
Brownfield site
- Land that has been used, abandoned and now awaits some new use. Commonly found across urban areas, particularly in the inner city.
Greenfield site - A plot of land, often in a rural or on the edge of an urban area that has not yet been subject to any building development.
Rural urban fringe - A zone of transition between the built-up area and the countryside, where there is often competition for land use. It is a zone of mixed land uses, from out of town shopping centres and golf courses to farmland and motorways.
Urban sprawl - The unplanned growth of urban areas into the surrounding countryside.

The edges of cities are known as the rural urban fringe.  There has been increasing building in these areas because of housing pressure, despite Greenbelt legislation (laws) that are supposed to prevent building there. 
The growth outwards of our cities into these regions is known as URBAN SPRAWL and can have many impacts on these areas;
Extra cost to the taxpayer – the public help to pay for infrastructure such as roads and water works to allow building developments to go ahead.
Increased Traffic – extra people in these areas means that cars are used more often, which means that there is more traffic on the roads, and there is also more air pollution and more accidents
Health Issues – people in these areas often have to commute to work which means that they often travel by car. This can have negative impacts on people’s health such as high blood pressure.
Environmental Issues  -sprawling cities consume land, and this displaces animals from their habitat 
Impact on Social Lives – people in sprawling communities can often live further from their neighbours, this can cause isolation.

In addition, cities like Newcastle upon Tyne that are growing can have an impact on any settlements that are within COMMUTING distance.  This is because with better transport technology and road links people can now live further from their place of work.  These settlements are known as commuter settlements and although the extra people living in them boosts local businesses it can have negative effects such as increasing traffic congestion, pressure on local services such as schools and GP surgeries and air quality.  Cramlington, 8 miles north of Newcastle centre, is a New Town that has developed into a commuter settlement.  It now numbers 44,000 people after its designation in 1963 as a New Town.

Map of Newcastle Great Park
Above - Newcastle Great Park sprawling into the North of Newcastle

Challenge 5 - Building on Brownfield and Greenfield sites

Housing is a big issue in the UK because;
1. It is a reasonably small country in terms of surface area which has a large and growing population (the ONS thinks we could hit 70 million people in 2033). 
2. To make the problem worse, population is not evenly distributed across the UK with lower densities the further north you go and the highest densities in London and the South East. 
3. The number of households has increased 30% since 1971 due to more people living on their own, rising life expectancy and high net levels of immigration.
The result of this has been housing shortages in the SE and high property prices and rental costs.

To solve this we need to build more homes.  WHERE should the UK build them?

  1. Greenbelt - tract of open land consisting of farmland, woodland and open recreational areas surrounding urban areas.  They are protected by law from new building, unless the government deems it necessary to build there.
  2. Greenfield site – a term used to describe any area of land that has not been developed previously.
  3. Brownfield site – an old industrial or inner city site that is cleared for a new building development.

Building in the green belt on undeveloped green field sites is a very controversial and contentious issue.  Population growth in the UK, the trend towards smaller family units and the demand for people to live at the edge of the city has put incredible pressure on the countryside surrounding all of our major cities.  In addition, the fact that land is cheaper and often more accessible at the edge of the city has meant that Light industry (e.g. Atmel at Silverlink), High Tech Industry (e.g. Sage at Newcastle Great Park) and retail (e.g. the Metro Centre) like to locate there.

The positives of brownfield and Greenfield sites are shown below;

Advantages of building in Greenfield sites Advantages of building on Brownfield sites
1) There is no need to clean up the site from previous land uses therefore can work out cheaper.
2) Existing road networks are not in place so don't restrict planning
3) They are often on the edges of cities where land is cheaper
4) Planners and architects have a blank canvas to work with
5) More space is available for gardens
6) The edge of city countryside environment can appeal to buyers and businesses.
7) Sites on the edge of the city are often close to major motorways providing great access
1) It is more sustainable as existing developed land is being used
2) They stop city expansion as they are already within the city - this stops the loss of countryside and reduces journey times as the city is more compact
3) Road networks already exist, as do electricity and gas networks, although these may need updating
4) It is easier to gain planning permission as councils are keen to reuse the brownfield sites.
5) The sites are closer to the CBD for shopping and job opportunities

Case study of Urban Sprawl and the Brownfield versus Greenfield debate – Newcastle Great Park

Newcastle Great Park is controversial housing and high tech industrial scheme developed at the Northern edge of the city within the greenbelt. Building of the suburb started in 2001.
It is located in the north of Newcastle next to Gosforth and the government gave special permission for this development to go ahead.  There are many different interest groups who think the development should go ahead including the developers (Persimmons homes), the government and the council and some homeowners. Conservationists and environmentalists, some homeowners and some urban planners think the scheme is a bad idea.

Housing at NGP Location of NGP

Newcastle Great Park (NGP) is also close to the A1 road. It is a major development with land allocated for:
• A Business Park
• Housing
• Town Centre
• Schools
• Nursery Provision
• Community Facilities
• Open Space
• Play Areas and Outdoor Sport
The scheme is being delivered by the Great Park Consortium, which includes the house builders Persimmon Homes, and Taylor Wimpey. Parts of the development have also been built by Barratt.

Arguments for NGP Arguments against NGP
1. Originally 2,500 new homes in a parkland setting of 442 hectares have been completed. An extra 1,200 homes were announced to be built from 2018.

2. There will be 80 hectares of commercial development which could generate jobs. Newcastle computer group Sage have their £50m headquarters there. The software firm's 575,000 sq ft building headquarters provides jobs for 1,500 workers.

3. Income has been generated for the developers

4. There is an integrated transport plan which will see every home not more than 400 metres from a bus stop, 27km of cycle routes in and around NGP, a discount cycle purchase scheme for residents and a car share database on the Internet.

5. A full time ranger will be employed to manage the country park to ensure local wildlife conservation.

6. The development lies adjacent to the A1, which will be widened and improved, and is within easy reach of the airport, providing excellent opportunities for national and international travel.

7. Originally, it was hoped that the scheme will slow down the net loss of 1,500 people per year who migrate from Newcastle.

8. There has been money put into landscaping and Sustainable urban drainage in the park, wetland and reed bed areas designed to reduce the amount of flooding.

9. Brunton First School opened in September 2009 and there are plans for a 1,200 pupil secondary school.
1. The three-storey properties priced from £200,000 are well beyond the average wage of people in Newcastle.

2. Environmentalists are concerned about the impact upon Red Squirrel (an endangered species) and deer populations which inhabit this area North of Newcastle.

3. The NGP housing plans contradict the principles of no/little development in the Green Belt.  The greenbelt was designed to prevent urban sprawl into countryside areas which have recreation and agricultural uses.

4. There is space for around 20,000 high quality homes on brownfield sites near to the city centre in the East and West end of the city. These areas (e.g. Scotswood, Benwell and Walker) are in decline since the loss of the shipping industry and are in need of a boost.

5. There is no guarantee of job creation. Sage opened there in 2004 but in 2019 announced they will move to another part of the city at Cobalt business park.

6. Traffic volumes in Gosforth and Newcastle city centre will increase.

7. Improving inner-city areas could slow down out migration.

8. Over 8,000 people signed a petition against the 2018 extension, with Save Newcastle wildlife arguing that there would be massive impacts on red squirrel populations

9. There is still no town centre!  According to the Great Park Action Group – “For the past 10 years, the Great Park Consortium has promised all current and prospective residents 18 retail units, a supermarket, a pub and a beautiful landscaped area. As of yet NONE of this has been delivered.”

10. The areas being built on since 2018 are prone to flooding.

Sustainable urban drainage at NGP

UIC - Newcastle - Grainger Town

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