Energy Cities proposition 35 - Think commercial urban planning differently to improve quality of life
Urban planning as a way of reducing energy use
Energy Cities is a network of more than 1,000 cities in 30 different countries. Convinced that energy transition is more than a question of renewable energy or advanced technologies, Energy Cities proposes to use resources in a reasoned way, to strengthen local participation and to improve the quality of life in a democratic Europe. In 2014, the network presents 30 proposals for the Energy Transition of Territories.
They are a source of inspiration to think and act differently. To finally turn the page on unsustainable practices that lead us into energy, climate and perhaps economic and social dead ends.
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The problem at hand
Following the US model, European commercial urban planning has often favoured vast shopping areas at the outskirts of cities, close to road and motorway interchanges. Based on a zoning logic and the maximisation of car parking spaces, this model encourages land-hungry and energy-intensive developments and reinforces our dependence on private cars. It also affects the urban function mix, the vitality of town centres and neighbourhoods as well as the city’s visual identity.
Supported by large retailers and made possible by cheap oil and an appetite for consumption, this model has now reached its limits. It is no longer appropriate to the future energy and socioeconomic challenges. The large retailers are returning to local neighbourhoods and shopping-centre wastelands have started to appear in the US.
Now is the time for more diversified retail areas, closer to where people live and accessible on foot or by bike, and for Internet sales and home delivery services which are less energy-intensive options.
Think commercial urban planning differently at the scale of the urban area and each of its peripheral towns or neighbourhoods.
Encourage a mixing of living, working, private and public service areas, including shops. Adapt the supply chain logistics so that consumer goods can be brought closer to consumers. Encourage small retailers and convenience shops based on an optimised and less polluting goods delivery and integrate Internet into the supply chain. Give shops their social role back.
Conditions for success
Defining a local commercial urban planning strategy with shopkeepers, large-scale distribution companies, chambers of commerce as well as with local community and consumers’ associations.
Systematically integrating the issue into town planning and urban mobility policies and facilitate access by soft modes of transport.
Using urban planning rules to regulate the development of large stores and, wherever possible, reserve the sale of staple goods to local convenience shops.