A cul-de-sac is a dead-end street - usually with houses - with only one inlet/outlet.
Now Prince Charles wants to get rid of them.......
February 11, 2007
Charles: let’s kill off the cul-de-sac
Prince persuades developers to curb ‘menace’ of suburban closes
It's a dead-end for the dead-end: Prince Charles wants to rid Britain of the cul-de-sac
BRITAIN’S cul-de-sacs, long the butt of metropolitan snobbery, are now being targeted by the Prince of Wales as an environmental menace that foster crime, car dependence and obesity.
Prince Charles has persuaded Britain’s biggest housebuilders, including Barratt, George Wimpey and Bovis Homes, to halt the postwar spread of suburban closes, a boom reflected by the Channel 4 soap Brookside.
Under new guidelines, they will bring back higher density housing in Victorian-style grids, to encourage people to exercise by placing shops and amenities within walking distance.
Charles’s adviser, Hank Dittmar, director of the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, which is drawing up the code, said the sprawling and looping design of cul-de-sacs forces people into their cars.
Dittmar claimed that many people routinely burn a litre of petrol on a shopping trip for a pint of milk. The new code states that every home should be within a five-minute walk of a shop selling basic foodstuffs.
“If you live at the end of a cul-de-sac in a housing estate, you have to drive to a collector road, then to a main road, to another collector road, to another cul-de-sac to the shop,” he said. “If you live on a set of interconnected blocks you can walk there.”
Research from Dr Richard Jackson, the American public health expert, shows that people in car-based communities weigh on average 6lb more than those in traditional towns.
The prince’s case looks set to be backed by new government policy that will make it harder for housebuilders to win planning permission for cul-de-sacs.
A draft of the Department for Transport’s Manual for Streets, released next month, says cul-de-sacs are “a deadend road system of ‘loops and lollipops’,” that “suffer from layouts that make orientation difficult, create left-over and ill-defined spaces . . . and are inconvenient for pedestrians, cyclists and buses”.
Charles told an audience of housebuilders, in an unreported speech, earlier this month: “The car has been at the centre of the design process for quite a long time. Now we need to put the pedestrian at the centre again.”
He said a return to higher-density housing would also help promote a “low carbon lifestyle”.
“Popular wisdom is that cities produce more emissions than their ‘greener’ suburbs, but in a recent US study, households living in the centre of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago only produced about a quarter of the carbon emissions of the suburban neighbours,” he said.
“This was because people chose foundation and the Home Builders Federation, whose members construct 80% of all new homes, will also seek to harness architecture to fight crime by encouraging a benign form of “curtain twitching”, with front doors facing onto the street and living rooms at the front of the house.
However, the benefits of a ban on cul-de-sacs are disputed. Dave Stubbs, crime prevention adviser at Thames Valley police, said: “Cul-de-sacs which are fully sealed are much safer and less likely to suffer burglary and car crime. It’s like in the Wild West when they used to draw the wagons into a circle at night to create defensible space. More permeability is inexorably linked to higher crime.”
However, research by London University academics has shown that if cul-de-sacs are connected by footpaths, enabling criminals to make their getaway, the chance of being burgled can be five times higher than in an open street.
History of the dead end
Cul-de-sac is a French word, but a British invention that became popular in the early 20th century.
Houses in “garden cities” could be exposed to light and air while remaining closely grouped together, writes Tom Baird.
Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire, founded in 1903, contained a pioneering cul-de-sac called Rushby Walk.
Sir Edwin Lutyens and M H Baillie Scott helped to design Hampstead Garden Suburb, which benefited from the first statute to permit the creation of cul-de-sacs with narrow entrances to deter cars.
A government report published in 2006 quoted American research showing that people who live in “car oriented developments” weigh 6lb on average more than those who live in towns with a “connected street network”.
People living in cul-de-sacs are 30% more likely to be burgled according to research published last year by the Space Syntax Laboratory, University College London.
Downing Street, a cul-de-sac, has been associated with the prime minister’s office since 1730.
The market town of Newent in Gloucestershire is home to the largest cul-de-sac in Europe — Foley Road.