The aim of c4g is to make rural areas sustainable. Not more sustainable, sustainable. This is no small task, given that at the moment Britain is profoundly unsustainable, and rural areas often more so than urban.
This has led to a widespread policy characterisation of rural areas as intrinsically less sustainable than urban areas, on a premise not much more sophisticated than ‘bigger is better’. c4g rejects such thinking, and believes that rural areas can be as sustainable as urban areas, on the same terms, such as CO2 emissions per capita. But this means that the means of achieving this will differ considerably between rural and urban. Rural policy and programmes should not be poor relations or urban ones. They should be purposefully different, but have to achieve the same ultimate objective, and so should also dovetail tightly together.
Working in the traditional ‘silos’ such as planning, housing, economic and community development, and transport will not do the job. Rural areas need to be looked at as socio-economic systems, where these factors interplay with geography to produce a range of outcomes. To change the outcomes, and improve sustainability, we need to consider the whole system. Working settlement by settlement cannot do this. One size cannot fit all as rural areas are very diverse even within a small country such as the UK.
c4g has a wide experience of working across all of these policy areas. Integration is built into all of our work.
For a fuller exposition of my thinking, try this article from Town and Country Planning, March 2007.
Often it will make sense for c4g to work with partners. These will be drawn from those I have already worked with, or will be new collaborations, depending on the needs of the job in hand.