The Bartlett School of Planning


Land Use Futures


Our everyday experience of travelling to work, the quality of our surroundings, the quality of the water we drink and our ability to enjoy outdoor space, are all affected by land use decisions.

Land use decisions not only affect the well-being of individuals, but the way land is used and managed has consequences for issues of national importance: the long-term stability of ecosystems, social justice, food and energy security, long-term economic competitiveness and the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.

Decisions about UK land use are also taken within an uncertain global economic and geo-political context. More certain is the "perfect storm" of water, food and energy shortages expected to hit around the year 2030 as the global population rises and climate change takes hold.

This project gathered research evidence as part of a Government-sponsored report on Land Use Futures that assess land use challenges to 2060. With reference to a range of indicators and drivers of change, the project attempted to identify critical issues that are cross cutting in order to create a synoptic perspective of land use change relating to: Governance and resilience; Multifunctionality; Ecosystem services; and Scientific evidence. It contended that traditional academic paradigms relating to top-down and bottom-up forms of planning and policy making are no longer relevant or suitable to address the complexity of issues that occur on the land. Attention should rather focus on synoptic thinking, place assets and territorial differentiation.

Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones was involved in the "Land Use Futures" project as one of the eight key lead experts.  The project aimed to produce an evidence base which will enhance Government and policy-makers’ understanding of how fit for purpose existing land use patterns, practices and governance structures are for the future.  Specifically, the project explored:

  • What land use challenges could the UK face over the next 50 years?
  • Will existing structures and mechanisms help us meet those challenges?
  • What opportunities exist to use and manage land differently now, so that UK society continues to enjoy a good quality of life in the future?

Land Use Futures combined future thinking with scientific and social sciences evidence to:

  • understand the nature of the 'land system';
  • explore possible futures;
  • identify key pressure points, challenges and opportunities;
  • illuminate key short-term choices and responses which encourage valued and sustainable land use practices;
  • consider associated opportunities and risks of implementing selected sub-national land use initiatives.

Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones 


Government Office for Science (2010), Land Use Futures: Making the Most of the Land in the 21st Century, Foresight, GOS, London. 


The work underpinned the Government's 2011 Natural Environment White Paper and continues to influence different government departments' work relating to land, ecosystem services, infrastructure, localism, and housing development. 

government policy