Living on the Edge: Building a Sub/Urban Region

Cochrane, Allan; Colenutt, Bob and Field, Martin (2015). Living on the Edge: Building a Sub/Urban Region. Built Environment, 41(4) pp. 567–578.



Traditionally the suburbs have been viewed as secondary products of urbanisation, as the necessary consequence of growth emanating from the centre, which has required housing on the outskirts and commuting back in for employment and high end consumption. But it is increasingly necessary to rethink this approach and to consider the implications of positioning the suburbs themselves as more central to processes of urban development and in defining the lived urban experience. Here, some of those implications are explored with the help of evidence drawn for research conducted on the edge of the London’s city region, or what has been called the Greater South East. The research on which it draws was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and focused on the tensions and prospects for housing growth in that area. The paper highlights some of the uncertainties and ambiguities associated with the new suburbia, as well as charting the way in which it has been incorporated into the wider politics of growth, as a subject of urban policy. It concludes by emphasising the need to acknowledge the importance of the suburbs as a central, rather than peripheral or secondary, aspect of contemporary urbanism.

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