John Grindrod's Outskirts is a ramble through the Green Belt of past and future

Grindrod's own family becomes a case study in this memoir slash social history of post-war Britain and its varying attitudes to progress

'I grew up on the last road in London,' begins John Grindrod's Outskirts, a satisfying ramble through the Green Belt of past and future with a backpack full of research. To him it's both the wilderness which lay at the edge of the council estate he grew up on and a town planning hot topic. Although a sort-of-joke, the line imparts the sense of not quite belonging to either rural or urban space which permeates the rest of the book.

As a memoir slash social history of post-war Britain and its varying attitudes to progress, Grindrod's own family becomes a case study by which he examines housing, class, health, the environment and more besides through a particular, personal lens. Although autobiographical detail could be pared back slightly, on the whole the personalisation of plotted land facing competing political and conservational pressures makes for both a thought-provoking read and a compelling argument for quality of life remaining central to balancing the UK's developed land and open spaces.

Out now, published by Sceptre.

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