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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ruivivar

Revamping Wide Roads into Housing Boulevards: A Solution?

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

In an innovative twist to the UK's housing crisis, Create Streets, a thinktank led by the government's top urbanism adviser, has proposed a radical solution: transform needlessly wide roads into boulevards of new homes.

This bold proposition is set to ruffle feathers in the motoring lobby but could be a breath of fresh air for green belt campaigners. The idea is to tighten sprawling T-junctions, tame enormous roundabouts, and narrow expressways, according to a paper to be circulated to ministers.

Create Streets' approach comes amid a deepening housing crisis and escalating pressure to build homes in the countryside. The thinktank suggests focusing on Britain's 'road belt' rather than its green belt. Preliminary design projects to test this concept are already underway in Rochdale, Bedford, and Southend-on-Sea.

The timing of this proposal is crucial as motoring and housing issues are climbing the political agenda. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has openly sided with motorists and initiated a review of low-traffic neighbourhoods. At the same time, the government is falling short of its target to construct 300,000 homes a year by mid-decade, increasing the urgency to utilise 'suitable brownfield sites and underutilised land' before encroaching on the green belt.

Create Streets' vision is to create "proud boulevards lined with beautiful homes" on spaces currently occupied by unnecessarily wide roads. However, critics argue that narrowing roads would necessitate deciding which traffic is no longer desired.

While this proposal is ambitious, it does highlight the need for innovative solutions to the UK's housing crisis. Whether it's feasible or not, it certainly adds a fresh perspective to the debate and underlines the importance of exploring all options in our quest to provide affordable, accessible housing for all.

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