Government group seeks input on shaping suburbs

A cross-party taskforce has launched a public call for evidence to help chart a course towards “suburban renaissance” across the country.

The taskforce is co-chaired by Dr Rupa Huq MP, who says in her introduction to the document that suburbs, having been “left to get on with it” in relation to inner cities, now face “problems of inequality and underfunding”.

She added: “It’s important that, be it in Solihull in Birmingham or Didsbury in Manchester, our efforts do not result in hollowed-out high streets and unaffordable housing.”

The group’s parliamentarian members will be assisted by an advisory board including Tony Mulhall, associate director of the RICS, Peter Murray, chair of New London Architecture and Richard Blythe head of policy at the RTPI. The board will be chaired by Jonathan Manns, board director and head of planning and development at Rockwell Property, and a visiting senior lecturer at University College London’s Bartlett School of Planning.

Manns said: “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.”

The taskforce will seek to gather evidence on what constitutes and characterises suburban society in the 21st century, and suggest how that could inform a policy framework around how taxation, investment and the planning system can support the long-term sustainability of suburbs.

The first phase of the project will focus on the outer boroughs of London, before the remit will be expanded across the rest of the country.

Responses are sought on a set of questions around the nature of suburbs, the suburban experience and the policy framework. The call for evidence is open until 2 October, with the taskforce set to report on its phase one findings in summer 2021.

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