The conditions for, and challenges of, adapting England's suburbs for climate change
Williams, K., Joynt, J., Payne, C., Hopkins, D. and Smith, I. (2012) The conditions for, and challenges of, adapting England's suburbs for climate change. Building and Environment, 55. pp. 131-140. ISSN 0360-1323
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2011.11.015
This paper outlines the conditions for, and challenges of, adapting suburbs in England for climate change. The paper introduces the ‘suburb’ as a spatial setting vulnerable to climate change related threats that have been largely absent from previous adaptation studies. It argues that in terms of the impacts of climate change on the daily lives of the UK’s population suburban neighbourhoods need far more attention. It sets out a typology of English suburbs (including inner-historic suburbs, pre-war garden suburbs, interwar suburbs, social housing suburbs, car suburbs, and medium-high density suburbs), and argues that these suburbs will experience both gradual changes in climate and extreme events. The changes will have impacts on ’place’ and ’people’, and modifications to the physical environment to respond to climate change will need to take place if they are to be sustainable in the future. Modifications can be at different scales: home and/or garden and/or neighbourhood. However, whether or not such modifications to the physical environment will be implemented is a function of the ‘response capacity’ in the suburb: and this is determined partly by the existing physical conditions of the suburb, and partly by economic, governance, knowledge and cultural contexts. The paper describes the conditions that underlie the response capacity in suburbs, and reveals the complexity of attempting to ‘climate proof’ some of the most established and valued parts of the English urban landscape.