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Simon Fairlie All Planned Out? - The Worldwide Impact of the British Town and Country Planning System
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All Planned Out?
The Worldwide Impact of the British Town and Country Planning System

18 and 19 May 2007

Simon Fairlie

Since 1998 Simon has been the Director of Chapter 7, the planning arm of The Land Is Ours network, which campaigns for '... access to land for all households... through environmentally sound planning'. He is also the co-editor of The Land magazine, formerly Chapter 7 News.

Simon worked for 20 years as an agricultural worker, builder and stonemason, before becoming a co-editor of The Ecologist magazine from 1992-1995.

His book, Low Impact Development: Planning and People in a Sustainable Countryside was published in 1996.

Simon was one of the founders of Tinkers Bubble, a low impact community in Somerset. He currently earns his living importing Austrian hand scythes into the UK and providing instruction in mowing meadows and suburban lawns by hand.

Website: and


click here for Chapter 7, the planning arm of The Land Is Ours network

9.30 to 11.00 on Saturday 19 May 2007

Ruralization: An alternative to sprawl


Not all environmentalists are in favour of cramming people onto brownfield sites. There is a rural green movement already initiating re-population of land-based industries and the revival of ancillary rural services.

This is not a recipe for the spread of suburbia.

Suburbs are places whose inhabitants have no economic attachment to the land around them. Suburbia overtakes a village when its last scrap of employment land is converted into dormitory residences.

Town cramming, being divorced from the land, is dependent upon distant fuel sources; if fossil fuels become unviable then compact cities and their suburbs will be under pressure to rely upon nuclear energy.

A move towards renewable energy, on the other hand, requires dispersed development patterns, bringing people closer to the land where micro-generation, biomass energy, building materials, local foods, water capture, and organic waste cycles can be accessed more efficiently.

This will allow more people to live and work where they want - in the countryside.

Ruralization: An alternative to sprawl

In support of his presentation in the Saturday morning plenary session Who is the town and the countryside for? Simon has provided the following extract from the Spring edition of The Land to download:

clickTLIO and the Right Wing Campaign Against the Planning System (Spring 2007) 655KB


Over the past few years, neo-liberal think tanks and right wing commentators have been mounting an assault on the planning system superficially similar to the critique advanced by Chapter 7 and The Land Is Ours. It is time that we made clear the difference.

TLIO agrees with right wing critics that the planning system currently causes artificially high housing prices. However TLIO should distance itself from the view that the countryside can absorb suburban development without damage, and from proposals to abandon or run down agricultural production in the UK and rely on imported food.

The planning system is the main way in which landless people can exert social control over the activities of landowners, and it should be reformed to promote affordability and sustainability, rather than weakened or abolished.

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