City limits: Oxford and sustainable cities

21 December 2009


Last week, a contingent from Oxford accompanied Prince Charles on a visit to Poundbury, Dorset in connection with the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities and a new Oxford MSc in Sustainable Urban Development.

Participants from Oxford included professors Steve Rayner, Director of the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (part of the 21st Century School) which leads the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, David Howard, a lecturer with the MSc program, Jonathan Michie, Director of the Department for Continuing Education, Gary Lock of the Institute of Archaeology and Colin Clarke, Emeritus Professor of Geography.

Poundbury, the location for the meeting, is an experiment in urban design established by the Prince in 1993. Built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwell, it was developed by the Foundation to serve as a model ‘eco-village’ intended to foster community and quality of life, as well as incorporating sustainability principles. For example, the town uses intentionally twisted roads and imposes a low speed limit to encourage a community based around walking, cycling and public transport, rather than cars. According to the Foundation, the example of Poundbury aims to offer a model for government and the development industry to look at sustainable development in the twenty-first century.

The Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities is also interested in looking at possible paradigms for sustainable cities. The programme recently issued a call for proposals to fund projects on the topic of ‘The Flexible City.’ By looking at topics including environment, technology and economy; government, business and civil society; and networks, places and structures, the programme aims to explore how cities will develop over the next 50 years.

To learn more about the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities and the current call for proposals, visit or contact Anne-Marie McBrien at +44 (0)1865 288486 or

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